black-coated worker(more especially of male workers) a routine clerical or office worker. The more generally used sociological term for this category of workers is WHITE-COLLAR WORKER.
The term ‘black-coated worker’ was first given sociological currency by LOCKWOOD (1958) in an historical account of a group of such workers and a critique of simple PROLETARIANIZATION arguments. Lockwood distinguished between ‘market’, ‘work’ and 'S tatus’ situations (see MULTIDIMENSIONAL ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION). Hi stor ically there existed a clear separation in status, salary and conditions between office workers and most sections of the working class. More recently, the MARKET SITUATION of manual and routine non-manual workers to some extent converged. In WORK SITUATIONS and STATUS SITUATIONS, however, there remained pronounced differences. Among other things, manual and non-manual workers were physically separated at work and black-coated workers retained a higher level of prestige than manual workers. This explained differences in CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS, and political attitudes, with black-coated workers being more likely to see themselves as MIDDLE CLASS and to vote for the Conservative Party In a postscript to the study, in a new edition of The Black-coated Worker, Lockwood rejects any suggestion that office workers have experienced either proletarianization or radical DESKILLING. See also SUBJECTIVE AND OBJECTIVE CLASS, RELATIVE DEPRIVATION.