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The Article “Blue-Collar Brilliance” by Mike Rose


In the article, Blue-Collar Brilliance, Mike Rose examines the assumptions about intelligence, vocation, and socioeconomic status. The author uses his family to illustrate how hard-working, intelligent people with skills that match those found in white-collar jobs. He stresses that the blue-collar workers are the unsung foot soldiers driving the American economy and they should not be seen as people with low intelligence levels but rather as highly skilled and specialized professionals. According to Rose, ‘intellect’ should not be equated with formal education (par. 9). Therefore, blue-collar jobs and services require higher intelligence than we may think. The main aim of writing this article is to stop the stigma associated with waged labor.

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Rose’s Description of the Café and other Places

The author gives a brief account of his experiences watching his mother, Rosie, work as a waitress in a coffee shop and restaurants while growing up. He shows how she was passionately dedicated to her work, which did not require formal education. Rosie had to quit school in the seventh grade. He narrates how his mother took care of her customers and colleagues’ emotional needs, which, according to the author, is a demonstration of high intellectual thought. For example, Rose explains her impeccable memory of customer orders. Rosie effortlessly remembered, “who had the hamburger who had the fried shrimp, almost getting it right” (par. 3). Rose also tells us about his uncle who left school in the ninth grade and started working at the general motors factory, reckoning that a demonstration of a high level of intelligence was needed for him to be promoted to a supervisory role at General Motors. For example, as a foreman, Joe learned to multitask to cope with a flurry of demands and stick to production schedules (par. 13). Rose uses these cases to support his argument that blue-collar workers, like his mother and uncle, have high levels of intelligence.

Rose’s Credibility and Expertise

The analysis and theories used by Rose depict him as a credible scholar and an expert in blue-collar brilliance. He studied humanities in college and had been a teacher for a decade in diverse educational settings. After eight years of research, Rose realized that with experience in blue-collar jobs, work-related actions become routine. At some point, one may have to learn through trial and error, observation, or verbal support from colleagues. He says that in any mental task, a lot of mathematics is used. A worker, therefore, gets used to the aspects of the environment, which involves perception and knowledge (Rose par. 24). This analysis portrays Rose’s credibility and expertise in blue-collar trades.

Use of Pathos and Logos

In his argument, Rose makes use of emotional cues and logic to elicit an emotional response and convince the reader about his ideas. He creatively employs pathos all through his argument by citing personal examples and introducing his family members to bring a sentimental longing. Rose tells about his mother working as a waitress and her working environment and himself as a child. The picture he creates draws the emotions of the audience to his argument. He then employs logos in his argument when he likens intelligence with formal education (Rose par. 17). Through this rational analysis, he draws the audience’s sense of reason in relation to the principles of validity.


I concur with Rose’s argument that an individual’s level of schooling is not an effective measure of intelligence. Today’s economic challenges deny most people the opportunity to pursue higher education but this does not mean they cannot earn great titles or acquire degrees. From my point of view, higher education is important, valuable, rewarding, and a key to success, though not always. Therefore, attending university or college is not the only way that can make one’s life successful and give him or her a fulfilling and contented life.

Work Cited

  1. Rose, Mike. “Blue-Collar Brilliance: Questioning Assumptions about Intelligence, Work, and
  2. Social Class.” The American Scholar, 2009. Web.

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