On white collar and blue collar jobs

In the sense of “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” no, I do not work and never have. But yes, in any other sense, I do feel that I work. And while I may not come home covered in dirt, that is because I wash the pus, snot and blood off at work. I come home exhausted, even though my work is not physically demanding. So yes, I do feel I can say I work for a living. I love what I do, and make a very good living, but yes, I do work. Intellectual work is work, IMHO.


Well yeah, often because they’re not being paid enough to live on and pay off student loans for the three or four courses they’re teaching at two or three campuses, and they’re being paid nothing for the research they’re also trying to publish.

My dude, what’s happening now to people with PhDs who hope to become professors is a travesty. In our neoliberal order, they’ve become proles, no matter how clean their fingernails may be.


And aside from professors at most elite institutions, most are working more and more, with increased class sizes and teaching loads, more and more meetings and other service and administrative work as faculty ranks shrink, increased publication demands, doing extra work that no longer existent staff used to do, and on and on. But hey, at least they don’t get literally covered in grime! (Which actually is a nice thing I suppose, but mental labor comes with its own forms of grime.)


The brain runs through a lot of glucose, the harder it has to work.

This lionizing of blue-collar work as “real” labour while calling white-collar work “not real work” is one of thd tricks being used to keep us squabbling amongst ourselves and not banding together. Plus, when you say to a woman “[job] isn’t working, per se” you are echoing all the arguments we hear all the goddamn time about how our unpaid labor (including the emotional labour of being everybody’s nurturer and therapist) is not real work, no matter how exhausted and covered in shit (sometimes literally) it leaves us.

If you go to work and do tasks for salary or wages, you are labour. Class struggle is not the only struggle, but making the class struggle harder by playing the divisive game doesn’t help.


I read somewhere, years ago, “If you stoped going to work, would you go broke? Maybe not tomorrow, but would your income stream dry up? If so, you, my friend, are working class. That applies to the guy who tends the garden as much as to the neurosurgeon. If your income is independent of your own efforts, you are not.” That seems as good a definition as any.


BTW and off topic, I like the festive new avatar!


Thank you.

Fewer people will complain about guillotines if they’re fun guillotines, I guess :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, you did. I’m sick of our entire society not valuing me, because I decided on a career path that includes labor that isn’t physical (and by the way, some of it is). I’m sick of being told I’m a worthless human being who doesn’t understand “real” human beings. I’m sick of being told that what I have offer the world isn’t of value or needed.


If you’re a professor, that’s still true. Adjuncts with PhDs still hoping to get professorships, and working fucking hard toward that goal, are also members of the “working poor.”


Sure is. There’s no escape from it. I’ve just moved a couple tiers up in the pyramid scheme.


Ah, so you now acknowledge that you didn’t get out of the “system,” or at least “a system.”

I agree with others above. Mental labor is labor. Believing in a false dichotomy between it and manual labor is a way of falling for the divide-and-conquer tactics of those whom we should be dreaming about introducing to our shiny new guillotines. :slight_smile:


I can’t get out of it. As long as there’s people (or rather, a people) to be exploited, there will be exploiters. I’m just at a level where my labor* is considered disposable, but not my literal life isn’t.

*I hate calling it that

I am guilty of that, definitely.

This is “A Round Up of Resistance to Trump”, not “A Round Up of Resistance to Each Other”. Sorry for the derail.




I’m probably not going to put this well, but I feel the need to say something.

This ongoing discussion reminds me of when men jump into a conversation about misogyny and/or domestic abuse to get upset because THEY are not like that: #notallmen.

I didn’t see anyone saying that YOU were someone who doesn’t work hard. I see several people making the point that physical labor is usually more dangerous, which is true. That’s not saying that non-physical labor isn’t work, or hard, or exhausting (or even sometimes dangerous). And it’s certainly true that society as a whole doesn’t value what you do, which makes your efforts even harder.

Basically, as far as I can tell, the people HERE are not devaluing you, or your work.


Okay. That’s fine then. I was wrong.

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Um, this is all off topic (and this is the first time I can remember disagreeing with you), so I’ll be brief.

I did read some comments as dismissive of academic labor as “labor,” e.g.,

As someone who has been both a factory worker and a researcher, I can say that the two are not remotely comparable, in any way.

At least I recognize that I don’t have to work for a living

And in response to,

Most adjuncts and professors work their asses off.

This reply:

Maybe adjuncts do. I know many who tend bar. Professors, not so much.

AFAIK, Mindy’s not a prof (yet!), but she is an academic, a practitioner, that is, of intellectual labor.

All of which is to say, I too read some comments as dismissing intellectual labor because it’s not “real labor,” because it’s (supposedly) not as hard on a person, nor as difficult and time-consuming, as manual labor.

So, I don’t think Mindy was wrong. I think she was objecting not to being personally accused of not working hard, but rather, to being thought of as working in a way (with her brains rather than her hands) that’s easy as pie compared to manual labor. And that she’ll have it even more easy if she becomes a prof.

Edit: But then, if Mindy says she was wrong, I guess I should take her word for it! :woman_shrugging:


The hearing on the emergency request is today, so it may not be much of a hold.




Damn it all to hell…


Repubs in that state have been nasty assholes for a long time now. Even after voters dumped major dickhead Scott Walker. I hope courts will block this latest blatant act of voter suppression.


I knew I wasn’t going to get my thoughts across clearly.

This is obviously my perception, not cold, incontrovertible facts. I don’t think anyone was attacking @MindySan individually, but rather pointing out that white collar work is hard, but not physically as dangerous as manual labor. It’s OK to recognize that there’s different kinds of hard, challenging work, but at the same time appreciating not having to do the physical stuff anymore.

But then, to look at the issue more generally: there is now a significant divide between white collar work that comes with white collar salary and benefits, and white collar work that comes with the same lack of recompense and respect as blue collar work. This is the result of the past 40 years of political manipulation. It used to be, going to college and getting a degree – especially a graduate degree – meant you’d have a less-dangerous career path in life. Remember, I grew up in a manual labor family, so I know that barely finishing grade school (never even attending high school) used to mean that you could still have a small house and a family, and a new car every 5 years. That is simply not the case anymore. Now, the norm is to have no benefits, no protection from being fired/let go at any moment (hard to get a 30-year mortgage that way), and barely enough salary to pay basic expenses, even for people who HAVE gotten the higher training and are working at jobs that used to be respected and protected.

As @MalevolentPixy said, divide and conquer is how the people in power keep the majority from rising up against them. We should be concentrating on the fact that all different kinds of work are needed and should be respected, no matter the field.