White-collar worker

White-collar worker

The term white-collar worker refers to a salaried professional who performs semi-professional office, administrative, and sales coordination tasks, as opposed to a blue-collar worker, whose job requires manual labor. "White-collar work" is an informal term, defined in contrast to "blue-collar work".

Office work



The term refers to the white dress shirts of male office workers common through most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Western countries as opposed to the blue shirts, uniforms or cover-alls of manual or service workers.

The term "white collar" is credited to Upton Sinclair, an American writer, in relation to modern clerical, administrative and management workers during the 1930s,[1] though references to "easy work and a white collar" appear as early as 1911.[2] Examples of its usage in the 1920s include a 1923 Wall Street Journal article that reads, "Movement from high schools to manual labor in steel plants is unusual, as boys formerly sought white collar work."[3]


Formerly a minority in the agrarian and early industrial societies, white-collar workers have become a majority in industrialized countries due to modernization and exportation of manufacturing jobs.

The blue collar/white collar descriptors as it pertains to work dress may no longer be an accurate descriptor as office attire has broadened beyond a white shirt and tie. Employees in office environments may wear a variety of colors, may dress business-casual or wear casual clothes all together. In addition work task have blurred. "White-collar" employees may perform "blue-collar" tasks (or vice versa). An example would be a restaurant manager who may wear more formal clothing yet still assist with cooking food or taking customers' orders or a construction worker who also performs desk work.

Receptionists in Stockholm

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition. Electronically indexed online document. White collar, usage 1, first example.
  2. ^ "The Job of Getting Jobs," World's Work 23, July 1911: 1454-55.
  3. ^ "Boys in Steel Mills," Wall Street Journal, June 30, 1923.

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