A Blue-collar worker is a member of the working class who performs manual labor and earns an hourly wage. Blue-collar workers are distinguished from those in the service sector and from white-collar workers, whose jobs are not considered manual labor.
Blue-collar work may be skilled or unskilled, and may involve manufacturing, mining, building and construction trades, law enforcement, mechanical work, maintenance, repair and operations maintenance or technical installations. The white-collar worker, by contrast, performs non-manual labor often in an office; and the service industry worker performs labor involving customer interaction, entertainment, retail and outside sales, and the like.
The term blue-collar is derived from uniform dress codes of industrial workplaces. Industrial and manual workers wear durable clothing that can be soiled or scrapped at work. A popular element of such clothes has been, and still is, a light or navy blue work shirt. Blue is also a popular color for coveralls, and will frequently include a name tag of the company/establishment on one side, and the individual's name on the other. Often these items are bought by the company and laundered by the establishment as well.
White-collar worker refers to a salaried professional or a person whose job is clerical, as opposed to a blue-collar worker whose job requires manual labour. "White-collar work" is an informal term, defined in opposition to "blue-collar work".
The term 'white collar' was first used by Upton Sinclair in relation to modern clerical, administrative and management workers in the 1930s. However, the European clerical collar of a priest's clothing was white, and pre-medieval priests in Europe were the main social group with literacy. Prior to the rise of separate professional and mercantile classes, priests not only performed ecclesiastical duties, but also served as physicians, lawyers, scribes, and accountants: often, they were the only literate members of a society in which others could not read or write. Sinclair's usage is related to the fact that during most of the nineteenth and twentieth century male office workers in European and American countries almost always had to wear dress shirts, which had a collar and were usually white. Additionally, in the factory system of twentieth century English speaking countries, the colour of overalls or coveralls indicated occupational status: blue for workers, brown for foremen, and white for professional staff such as engineers.
A pink-collar worker works in a relatively clean, safe environment, in a job that is considered traditionally female (these traditions generally harking back to the first half of the twentieth century). The term is formed by analogy to blue collar and white collar.
The term originally arose to distinguish these jobs from white collar jobs, and to distinguish women in these roles from other white-collar workers, because their work did not require as much professional training, nor did it carry equal pay or prestige.
Gold-collar worker (GCW) is a neologism which has been used to describe either young, low-wage workers who invest in conspicuous luxury (often with parental support), or highly-skilled knowledge workers, traditionally classified as white collar, but who have recently become essential enough to business operations as to warrant a new classification.
A green-collar worker is a worker who is employed in the environmental sectors of the economy, or in the agricultural sector. Environmental green-collar workers satisfy the demand for green development. Generally, they implement environmentally conscious design, policy, and technology to improve conservation and sustainability. Formal environmental regulations as well as informal social expectations are pushing many firms to seek professionals with expertise with environmental, energy efficiency, and clean renewable energy issues. They often seek to make their output more sustainable, and thus more favorable to public opinion, governmental regulation, and the Earth's ecology.
Grey-collar refers to the balance of employed persons not classified as white or blue collar. Although grey collar is sometimes used to describe those who work beyond the age of retirement, its most widely accepted meaning refers to occupations that incorporate some of the elements of both Blue and White collar, or are completely different from both categories.
Answered By: sciptor - 6/27/2008