The Values of Blue Collar Work

“There isn’t a day that goes by in the restaurant that you don’t learn something.” (Rose 3). Mike Rose is a research professor at UCLA and the author of twelve books. In Blue Collar Brilliance, Mike Rose touches the ideology of intelligence only being associated with proper schooling. He wants to destigmatize the idea that blue collar work doesn’t require any “brilliance” by appealing the audience. Rose speaks of blue collar jobs almost poetically, emphasizing the skills needed for them, showing his logos appeal. He then describes his mother’s and uncle’s past experiences and why they ended up in blue collar jobs, while talking about his own observations growing up, which is how Rose uses his pathos appeal.

The setting in which Blue Collar Brilliance was written ranges from different times in his past, where he describes the environment of a restaurant, to the atmosphere of a motor factory. Mike Rose uses his experience in the social psychological field and humanities as his ethos, in order to talk about how involved blue collar work is with cognitive processes. The larger context Rose shows is simply that wisdom doesn’t have a single definition, and that it comes in different forms for different people. The appeals used in this piece of text show in a more powerful way how blue collar work involves just as much intelligence as white collar jobs. Mike Rose appeals his audience by speaking in a praising way about his mother being a waitress. He describes how a waitress is able to juggle seven to nine tables at once, while each of those tables have two to six customers. (Rose 2) She can remember what order belongs to who, while refilling drinks and taking empty plates. Rose brings to light the part of blue collar work that isn’t noticed by the general public. He also talks about his uncle Joe, and how he dropped out of school to later work in an assembly line of a factory. “Still, for Joe the shop floor provided what school did not; it was like schooling, he said, a place where you’re constantly learning.” (Rose 4). Between his mother and uncle, each of them describe their job as a place where they are constantly learning new things.

Therefore, Rose describes blue collar jobs as an equivalent to schooling for some people, because it offers a hands on approach to learning. Growing up, Mike Rose remembers how he struggled academically in school. His mother and uncle both dropped out of school at a young age, and found themselves later working in a blue collar job. He appealed to the audience using pathos by not only discussing how his mother and uncle never completed school, but also by discussing his personal struggles with academics. Rose imposed that his mother and uncle dropped out of school to help take care of their siblings. This situation can be very relatable to some of the audience, due to the fact that there are people who give up academics to take care of their family in times of need. Pathos can also be found when he is speaking about other blue collar jobs, such as plumbing or being a hairstylist. Rose gives them credit for adapting to their environments, being flexible with solving the task at hand, and using their specialized skills to finish their jobs.

Regardless if they finish school, blue collar workers are highly accused of being less intelligent and not as hardworking as white collar workers, but Mike Rose effectively describes why that accusation is false. Blue Collar Brilliance seems to be directed toward the general working-class. He does not seem happy about the stigma placed on blue collar jobs, so he makes it clear that white collar work is not necessarily the only path to happiness. In a way, it is visible that he may even be directing it toward departments of education since so many schools place the most importance on becoming something prestigious. Rose says otherwise, stating that blue collar jobs require just as much mathematical and literate proficiency as most people believe. Math and writing/ reading are not specific skills needed for particular jobs, so Rose could have been using that to relate to his audience whether the audience works in a blue collar or white collar job.

Mike Rose studied social psychology and humanities in his college career, leading him to look further into how much mental processing is involved in blue collar work. One of the biggest assumptions of blue collar work is that it is not based around anything more but the physical routine of the job at hand. His background knowledge in psychology and humanities shows the audience that Mike Rose is not just speaking positively about blue collar jobs out of bias, but also from an educated perspective. He used his education as a way to inform the audience that choosing a career in blue collar work requires certain skill sets and training. For example, a hairstylist has to pay close attention to what their client wants done with their hair. This requires paying close attention to the style asked for, and imagining in the mind how to make the style a reality. A plumber has a set of knowledge particular to himself, ranging from what pipes to use or how they can fix something that is clogged or leaking. Rose gave examples of a few different blue collar jobs that are out there and how the psychological processing within jobs is somewhat specialized. In order to destigmatize the ideology of blue collar work, in this piece by Mike Rose, he really stressed the fact that people in this field of work are constantly learning.

People are presumptuous about certain types of work not requiring a huge set of skills, but they do not realize that every job consists of a unique skill set. Just because someone’s education stops in grade school, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that person does not acquire new things throughout the rest of their working life. Mike Rose tries to point out that white collar work is not essentially cut out for everyone. Some people prefer a more hands on approach to learning, while others learn better visually. His uncle Joe described his job as being a school to him; a place where he can educate himself. This opinion itself is what Rose uses to defend his ideology that blue collar work isn’t as mindless as people initially believe.

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The values of blue collar work. (2021, Mar 29). Retrieved September 23, 2022 , from

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