Lisa Arnold

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This study examined alienation from an interpersonal communication perspective in order to find a connection between aspects of alienation and interpersonal communication.

Alienation occurs at two levels according to scholars in sociology and psychology. At the social level, one's culture influences behavior in interpersonal relations. At the psychological level, one's perception of self worth influences interpersonal relations. This study used Srole's five aspects of alienation (isolation, estrangement, powerlessness, unpredictability, and meaninglessness) to analyze interpersonal relationships between those alienated on both levels.

Two plays were chosen to exemplify how alienated people need close interpersonal communication. The Zoo Story, by Edward Albee (1959), shows how two strangers, separated by self-actualization and material worth, help one another make a close interpersonal connection. Buried Child, by Sam Shepard (1971), shows a dysfunctional family whose members recognize their alienation from themselves, each other, and society.

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Psychology Commons