Manager (Office Setting)
Salesperson (Office Setting)
EtymologyPopularized by Pulitzer Prize winning author Upton Sinclair in the 1930s. However, the term white collar is referenced in a 1924 local newspaper article (The Times of Alden, Iowa). It is referenced in such a way to indicate it was already in common parlance at the time.
MeaningAn analogy to the white shirts and suits typically worn by male office workers at the time. Typically contrasted to the blue collar shirts supposedly worn by workers who perform physical labor such as a carpenter.
White Collar vs Middle ClassWhite collar relates to two aspects of working conditions: an office environment and a lack of physical work. Middle class is a socioeconomic group that generate discretionary income such that they can accumulate capital and/or invest in their quality of life. Historically, the term white collar was heavily associated with the middle class and blue collar with the working class who do not generate significant discretionary income. In the past two decades this association has faded due to the introduction of large numbers of white collar jobs that do not pay enough to reach middle class status. Likewise, in developed countries, there are a large number of blue collar professions that pay enough to be solid middle class professions.
|Overview: White Collar|
Work of a primarily non-physical nature that occurs in an office or office-like setting.