Original Research

Unskilled blue collar workers: Bourgeois and/or authoritarian? Results from a small scale survey in Belgium

Hans De Witte
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 3, No 2 | a329 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v3i2.329 | © 2007 Hans De Witte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 March 2016 | Published: 11 April 2007

About the author(s)

Hans De Witte, Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

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In this article, two contrasting theories on the attitudes of unskilled blue collar workers are confronted: the ‘embourgeoisement’ thesis and the hypothesis of the ‘authoritarianism of the working class’. The ‘embourgeoisement’ thesis states that blue collar workers
adopted the attitudes (and life style) of white collar workers, from whom they can no longer be distinguished. Lipset’s hypothesis of the ‘authoritarianism of the working class’, on the other hand, states that blue collar workers more strongly endorse a conservative attitude on socio-cultural matters and a progressive stand concerning socio-economic issues. Both hypotheses are tested using data from a small scale survey (N = 135) among unskilled blue collar workers and lower- and mid-level white collar workers from different large companies in the region of Leuven, Belgium. The results indicate that the interviewed unskilled blue collar workers still hold a set of attitudes that distinguishes them from the interviewed white collar workers. So, the ‘embourgeoisement’ thesis was refuted. Instead, the unskilled blue collar workers were more conservative on a socio-cultural level, and more progressive concerning socio-economic issues. These results are in line with Lipset’s ‘authoritarianism of the working class’ hypothesis.


Embourgeoisement thesis, blue collar workers, white collar workers, working class in Belgium, authoritarianism of the working class, socio-cultural attitudes of occupational groupings.


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Crossref Citations

1. Job demands-resources and early retirement intention: Differences between blue-and white-collar workers
Bert Schreurs, Hetty Van Emmerik, Nele De Cuyper, Guy Notelaers, Hans De Witte
Economic and Industrial Democracy  vol: 32  issue: 1  first page: 47  year: 2011  
doi: 10.1177/0143831X10365931