What is ajenidad ?

Yesterday in class a student asked me how to translate ajenidad, noting that it is not in my Léxico (another term I should add). Since she works in a labor law firm, I immediately recognized the context: here ajenidad is derived from the expression trabajo por cuenta ajena, describing the fact of working for an employer, under an employment contract. Thus, ajenidad (and trabajo por cuenta ajena) can be rendered simply as “employment” or “working under an employment contract,” as opposed to trabajo por cuenta propia, which is “self-employment.”

The above defines the concept of ajenidad laboral. But there is also an ajenidad penal in Spanish criminal law, which is one of the essential elements in the definition of hurto (theft). Article 234 of the Criminal Code defines hurto as “tomar las cosas muebles ajenas, con ánimo de lucro, y sin voluntad de su dueño.” In this context ajenidad del mueble is a required element of hurto, referring to the fact that the stolen goods must actually belong to someone else. The appropriation of abandoned or otherwise ownerless property is not an offense: [la ajenidad del mueble] supone que exista un propietario del bien mueble objeto del delito. No cometerá infracción penal quien toma una cosa que está abandonada, pues las cosas pueden adquirirse por ocupación cuando carecen de dueño.*

*Read more here

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