The article is an essay on the critical analysis of one of the fundamental issues of social theory of the 19th — 20th centuries — alienation and its manifestations in modern societies. Alienation is interpreted not in one of its special meanings (such as alienation of labor, etc.), but in the broadest way — as the transformation of products of individual and collective activities into an independent force that subjugates a person and transfers him from the position of the subject to the position of the object of social relations. Such a definition makes alienation a ‘universal’ feature of social life. However, in different societies and in different historical periods, alienation can have variable specific forms. The historically specific manifestations of alienation in modern societies can be explained by referring to the classical theme of their genesis. The originality of their institutional organization is largely associated with the originality of their culture and spiritual life (in particular, with the radical demarcation between human and nature, subject and object in the modern era). The multifaceted phenomenon of scientific and technical rationality, the product of the post-Renaissance Western-European culture, becomes a source of social realities and practices ‘fraught with alienation’. The article illustrates it by a number of examples, including the logic and mechanisms of the capitalist money economy. The author refers to the heritage of world philosophy and social thought, which problematized and conceptualized the considered issues in various ways: the Frankfurt School, existentialist philosophers, ‘pillars’ of theoretical sociology — Karl Marx and Georg Simmel. © D.G. Podvoyskiy, 2021.