MANAGING WHITE COLLAR WORKERS
The term white-collar worker refers to a person who performs professional, managerial, or administrative work, in contrast with a blue-collar worker, whose job requires manual labor. Typically white collar work is performed in an office or cubicle.
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, though references to “easy work and a white collar” appear as early as 1911. 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.”
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.
Blue Collar vs White Collar
Up to this day, there is confusion in discerning blue from white collar jobs. There has been some stigma attached to some, most especially to blue collar jobs. Nevertheless, both job types have their own set of pros and cons.
Traditionally, white collar jobs were named as such because these jobs originally required the worker to wear a shirt that is colored white either with a tie or without one. These jobs are often those that require the employee to wear a tie and work within the safe confines of the four walls of their offices, stores, schools and the like. Nevertheless, it can be safely said that the era of wearing the traditional white shirt and tie has already faded away. Still, many professionals like doctors and lawyers still don their ties and perhaps couple it with a white coat (especially for the medical doctors) to give an impression of a more serious stance.
On the contrary, blue collar jobs are not necessarily jobs that require the worker to wear blue shirts or polo. It is rather an expression which emphasizes that these employees work in a non-management position like those jobs that may involve workers becoming dirtier because of physically working a little harder. Often, these are the jobs that require protection clothing. So, perhaps the confusion sets in when one would label being a doctor as a blue collar job because most of them wear a doctor’s coat or mask for protection. Medical doctors are white collar workers! Blue collar workers are the auto mechanics, drivers, and factory employees.
Unfortunately, there is an undeniable presence of a stigma for blue collar jobs. People often become too judgmental and say that these jobs are just plain ‘dirty,’ literally. Even if most of these jobs are more laborious, not to mention dangerous for the employee because of the workplace they report to, this does not always hold true to all cases.
Conversely, white collar jobs have a better working environment that are usually cleaner and cooler. These are the corporate jobs that often have a good basic monthly pay. As a result, many professionals who hold a degree end up with a white collar job while those who didn’t finish college will eventually end up in ‘just’ a blue collar job. Yet again, this is not applicable to all situations. Also, middle class workers have been linked to blue collar while the upper class workers have been connected to white collar. Fortunately for blue collar jobs, the truth about receiving a higher pay for their white collar counterpart is not always true. In several instances, they even end up receiving a higher pay than the white collar workers.
1. White collar jobs are made synonymous to professionals who obtained higher degrees and education.
2. White collar jobs are linked to the generally higher paying type of jobs.
3. White collar jobs often have a cleaner of ‘better’ workplaces.
4. White collar jobs are more corporate and managerial while blue collar jobs are often non management but actual physical labor type of jobs.
Although dress codes have changed significantly over the years, many jobs are still defined by the traditional work shirts worn by those who perform them. Workers who primarily perform manual labor or other hands-on work often wear blue work shirts, for example. Jobs traditionally held by women, such as teaching or secretarial work, are considered to be pink collar jobs. A white collar job is typically associated with clerical, sales or managerial occupations. The traditional dress code for such work is often a white button-down dress shirt and tie.
Back in the days when the American economy was primarily agrarian, white collar jobs accounted for less than 20% of the total workforce. Today, the number of people who hold a white collar job is closer to 60%. As technology improves in a given industry, there is often a shift from blue collar workers who service the machinery to white collar workers who supervise and manage production. A white collar job is quite often associated with management, even if the employee’s actual job duties are more hands-on than supervisory.
HOW THEY ARE USED IN RESEARCH
White collar workers can be used in research when the case study or subject matter is aasociated with white collar crimes. It can be summarily discourse as investigating and gathering of data. White-collar crime is a financially motivated, economic, non-violent crime committed for illegal monetary gain. Within the field of criminology, white-collar crime initially was defined by Edwin Sutherland in 1939 as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation” (1939). Sutherland was a proponent of Symbolic Interactionism, and believed that criminal behavior was learned from interpersonal interaction with others. White-collar crime, therefore, overlaps with corporate crime because the opportunity for fraud, bribery, elaborate ponzi schemes, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft, and forgery are more available to white-collar employees.
The term white-collar crime only dates back to 1939. Professor Edwin Hardin Sutherland was the first to coin the term, and hypothesize white-collar criminals attributed different characteristics and motives than typical street criminals. Mr. Sutherland originally presented his theory in an address to the American Sociological Society in attempt to study two fields, crime and high society, which had no previous empirical correlation. He defined his idea as “crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation” (Sutherland, 1949). Many denote the invention of Sutherland’s idiom to the explosion of U.S business in the years following the Great Depression. Sutherland noted that in his time, “less than two percent of the persons committed to prisons in a year belong to the upper-class.” His goal was to prove a relation between money, social status, and likelihood of going to jail for a white-collar crime, compared to more visible, typical crimes. Although the percentage is a bit higher today, numbers[which?] still show a large majority of those in jail are poor, “blue-collar” criminals, despite efforts to crack down on white-collar, and corporate crime. The introduction of white-collar crime was a relatively new issue to criminology at that time. He was urging other criminologists to stop focusing on the socially and economically disadvantaged. The types of individuals who committed these crimes lived successfully and were respected by society in general-also criminologists; because these criminals were held to such a high regard, these individuals were given a blind eye to the crimes they committed.
Other fiscal laws were passed in the years prior to Sutherland’s studies including antitrust laws in the 1920s, and social welfare laws in the 1930s. After the Depression, people went to great lengths to rebuild their financial security, and it is theorized this led many hard workers, who felt they were underpaid, to take advantage of their positions.
Much of Sutherland’s work was to separate and define the differences in blue collar street crimes, such as arson, burglary, theft, assault, rape and vandalism, which are often blamed on psychological, associational, and structural factors. Instead, white-collar criminals are opportunists, who over time learn they can take advantage of their circumstances to accumulate financial gain. They are educated, intelligent, affluent, confident individuals, who were qualified enough to get a job which allows them the unmonitored access to often large sums of money. Many also use their intelligence to con their victims into believing and trusting in their credentials. Many do not start out as criminals, and in many cases never see themselves as such.