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blue-collar worker

Definition of Blue-collar Worker

(noun) An individual who engages in manual labor, such as a construction worker or factory worker and is typically an hourly wage earner.

Examples of Blue-collar Worker

  • factory worker
  • farmer
  • mechanic

Blue-collar Worker Pronunciation

Usage Notes

  • Plural: blue-collar workers
  • Blue-collar is a reference to the durable blue denim shirts historically worn by manual laborers, referred to as blue-collar workers.
  • The earliest listing for “blue-collar” in the Oxford English Dictionary is in 1929.
  • Blue-collar” is often used in a derogatory sense to indicate lower socioeconomic status to others. Conversely, it is used to indicate pride in ones own status.
  • The term is sociologically problematic because some highly skilled manual laborers (e.g., welders, repairmen) make more money, have more autonomy, and require more training than entry level white-collar workers.
  • Variant spellings:
    • blue collar worker
    • bluecollar worker

Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Blue-collar Worker

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “blue-collar worker.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 21, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/blue-collar-worker/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

blue-collar worker. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/blue-collar-worker/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “blue-collar worker.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 21, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/blue-collar-worker/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“blue-collar worker.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 21 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/blue-collar-worker/>.