The topic for this week is dedicated to economics, workers’ alienation, and conformity. The first article I wish to summarize is “White Collar: The American Middle Classes,” written by Mills (1951). This article concerns the research that Mills (1951) conducted about the role of the middle class in American society of the mid-20th century. According to Mills (1951), understanding of the world of white-collars sheds light on hopes, anxieties, and the worldview of modern representatives of the middle class.
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The research methods employed by Mills (1951) include the analysis of the literature on social philosophy, vocational guidance, and the results of the surveys of employment offices. In addition to that, the author conducted several interviews with managers, businesspeople, and clerks to create an image of a typical white collar. The given fragments of Mill’s (1951) book do not include any empirical observations of the population. Instead, the paper contains the author’s reasonings on the life and significance of nine-to-fivers.
One of the most curious findings of Mill’s (1951) article is that the status of a person in the white-collar hierarchy might depend not that much on his or her managerial functions and responsibilities but the closeness to the head of a company. This implies that in this case, a position of a private secretary or assistant of a firm’s leader or a top manager might be more trophy than a place of an ordinary accountant or a middle manager. Besides, Mills (1951) emphasizes that the staff members are replaceable and not unique from the senior officials’ perspective. More precisely, Mills (1951) writes that secretaries are often dismissed and replaced with someone more proficient. The author also discusses the distinctive features of people who are called white collars.
Mills, C. W. (1951). White collar: The American middle classes. Oxford University Press.