Blue Collar Vs White Collar.

It has not yet come to Vs in India. It is still peaceful coexistence, albeit with a subtext of unease.

The Blue Collar population striving hard to get its children move up the social and economic ladder by sending them to good schools/colleges etc and to a large extent succeeding. On the other hand, what I would call a Green Collar population, predominantly rural and agriculture oriented, strives hard to send part of its numbers into cities into Blue Collar occupations and succeeding at that too.

That leaves us with the White Collar which aspires to just keep up with the better off neighbours! In other words, wealth.

There is however a new category called Knowledge Workers which mostly does not wear collars at all and is totally outside the ambit of fashion. This category is the latest kid on the block and has created quite a stir in some of our cities like Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad where our Information Technology companies tend to concentrate.

All three are interdependent and feed off each other quite peacefully.  And Hambone explains the economic reality beautifully in this cartoon.


There is however the looming danger of automation which will increasingly affect all three categories. Beyond that, the scenario is even more startling as depicted so starkly by Yuval Noah Harari in his amazing book Homo Deus. From where we stand, he says, in the accelerating present, no long-term future is imaginable, still less predictable – and there is plenty of time for questions. In that book he suggests a future for human beings that will be more like the Gods of yore than humans of now! I leave my readers to either read the book or research on their own.

Shackman has suggested this week’s LBC topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

This entry was posted in Blogging, Books / Reading, India, Sociology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Blue Collar Vs White Collar.

  1. shackman says:

    Chasing wealth is prevalent here – the problem is the new millennials do not seem willing to work to earn it as they are used to instant gratification. Lucrative blue collar careers are available to anyone willing to get their hands dirty and work – traits we used to hold in high esteem. Yep – tech is a no collar industry but I include it in the white collar world.

    If I was in my twenties and looking to enter the workforce I suspect I’d either be looking hard at blue collar careers.
    shackman recently posted..Blue Collar vs White Collar

    • I had commented on your post that I would have probably ended up in a blue collar career had it not been for my mother desperately wanting me to pursue a degree and a white collar career. I don’t think that it is infra dig to be in one.

  2. I agree with shackman, I would go for a blue collar job like a plumber that pays well and requires skills that aren’t apt to be replaced by robots. The world is changing fast.

    • Had it not been for an obsession of my mother that her first born acquire a degree and pursue a white collar job, I probably would have ended up in a blue collar career and very likely would have earned a great deal more than I did in a white collar one.

  3. Looney says:

    Was just contemplating my collar and realizing that this makes me an old-timer at work, regardless of the color of the collar.
    Looney recently posted..Sannyasi vs Gotta Keep Working

  4. The world is changing fast, and boundaries are melting away—at least we can hope!

  5. Tikno says:

    That’s what makes the world can continue rotating.
    This analogy is the same as the caste system in India. If everyone is Boss then who is turning the wheel.

  6. interesting – not something I have particularly thought about.

    One of the lads next door is training to be a nurse, now when I was younger you did that onsite at a big city hospital but he is doing his via a University type degree – with occasional practicum, at various institutions – some different. I also knew another lad who went down this avenue, I caught up with him last year – he was now doing post-graduate studies as he needed to keep ahead to move up the “ladder” – all very different in this era IMHO

    • I have been hospitalised five times so far in my life for surgery and the last time I was, there were two male nurses in attendance and I was informed by them that it is now getting to be quite common for men to become nurses. They were quite good too and for me effective.

  7. Gabbygeezer says:

    Something I think about now and then without being able to decide what career advice I would give a youth who might ask me. Here in Michigan, center of the “rust belt,” we just learned the unemployment rate has fallen to the “full employment” level. Business people say they have many blue collar jobs open, and can’t find applicants to fill them. One problem is that “blue collar” now seems to have a new definition. Middle class workers need computer and other advanced skills to perform the work, and the educational system is not filling the needs.
    Gabbygeezer recently posted..Way Too Much Pay For Play

    • The situation is no better here. Even Engineering graduates are unemployable in blue collar jobs and have to be retrained by employers. Liberal Arts students find it difficult to get into Business Schools as they are weak in mathematics and statistics and so opt out for other careers. By and large confusion regarding what would make for a good career reigns.

  8. Here what we have is a growing divided between the very wealthy and the poor, with a shrinking middle class. It’s frightening.
    Secret Agent Woman recently posted..Have I mentioned that I can be pretty goal-focused?

  9. Joared says:

    Fascinating topic when I think of automation with artificial intelligence — possibly threatening to the human race. The challenge is to maintain all as our tools. Given how so many people seem to become subservient to some of their digital devices, such addiction could be an issue maybe negating categories you describe.

    I think in the U.S. agriculture has long been monopolized at the big business corporate monied level. My maternal grandfather was a successful family farmer as his youngest son continued to be, but focusing primarily on having a dairy herd — these family farms have mostly ceased to survive. So, seems to me our current divisions are more like Blie Collar, White Collar and that small percentage of individuals whose work with manager(s) is to make money simply investing their money.

    If energy sources needed to operate all the devices where all our information is stored cease to be available, people with knowledge stored in their brain and/or written may be most in demand. So-called Blue Collar skills could be at a premium — always good to have even today.

    • I agree. I pay fortunes to get plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc to do repair work at home as do I to hire on day hire basis drivers to take me into town. None of these professionals want to be fully employed and would rather be freelance as they make more that way.

  10. nick says:

    I keep reading that automation will destroy millions of jobs, but I see little evidence of that happening. I can think of many jobs that simply can’t be automated, because they rely on specifically human skills and knowledge, as well as customer-service skills. How exactly do you automate a barista or bricklayer or car mechanic? I’m not even convinced that all cars will become driverless – there are so many hazards that only a human driver can recognise and avoid.

    • The service sector is already facing quite a bit of automation with machines doing what men used to do like computerised billing, accounting etc. Take a look at this to get an idea of another future.

      And this too.

      • many places of business offer self-service – nearly all supermarkets have at least 6 self-service machinery (with one supervisor, for those in trouble) but there are still operators so not all is lost…I have used them once, but I find using such gadget difficult as you mostly know…

        think self-service petrol pumps – gone is the group of petrol fillers, one if you’ve lucky on the forecourt…during the daytime, none at night.

        self-service banking “hole in the wall” – probably other self-services…can’t think today.

      • nick says:

        That looks like a good example of what I’m saying. The robot may be able to take an order and serve the food, but suppose you have a complaint? Suppose you think the meal isn’t hot enough, or your knife and fork are dirty, or the potatoes taste peculiar? How would it deal with that? Presumably it would have to call the manager….

Comments are closed.