Mike Rose ‘Blue Collar Brilliance’ Analysis: Unveiling Intelligence

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Mike Rose ‘Blue Collar Brilliance’ Analysis: Unveiling Intelligence

This essay will analyze Mike Rose’s essay “Blue Collar Brilliance,” which challenges the traditional notions of intelligence and highlights the cognitive skills involved in blue-collar work. It will discuss Rose’s arguments on how physical work requires complex thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability. The piece will examine the essay’s contribution to understanding intelligence and work, and its implications for education and societal perceptions of blue-collar professions. At PapersOwl too, you can discover numerous free essay illustrations related to Cognition.

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Introduction to “Blue Collar Brilliance”

An Analysis of “Blue Collar Brilliance” by Mike Rose In his essay, “Blue Collar Brilliance,” author Mike Rose explained how he watched different types of service workers in the field, then came to the conclusion that each of them possesses a unique set of skills that takes a lot of intelligence to master. He challenged the view that the intelligence of people who work blue-collar jobs is lower than those who do not. Many people in the current society are under the belief that service jobs hold low value because it has been pressed into their minds that anyone can work them.

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Rose communicates the issues by observing his mother at the diner where she works and explaining to the readers how intelligent she actually is. Mike Rose identified the issue of judgment on blue-collar workers by observation and attributed the causes of this problem to society not recognizing the intelligence these people actually have because that is how these employees have always been seen.

Definition and Illustrations

Within this essay, Mike Rose basically said that blue-collar and service jobs require more intelligence than the average person might assume. He illustrated his experiences in the diner where his other worked as a waitress serving coffee and food. His mother is portrayed as a person “who acquires knowledge and intuition devised memory strategies” (Rose, 2009). He described how she had memorized who had ordered what dish and how she became the best at deciphering the body language and emotional needs of the diners and her co-workers. Rose also observed his uncle, who worked at the General Motors factory on the production line. After his uncle was promoted to supervisor of the paint line, he began to “not only solve problems but also began to find problems to solve” (Rose). He showed the same amount of intelligence that was required of supervisors in the painting line. Readers are led to assume that the job a person works does not measure how smart they are. In today’s society, many people cannot afford an education after high school, but that does not mean that they are not as intelligent as a doctor or lawyers if they can afford schooling. Not everyone has the funds to acquire degrees and titles, and some just do not have the desire to continue their education. While many believe that higher education is a worthwhile pursuit, it is also not the best route for many people. Attending college does not lead to a happy and fulfilling lifestyle for some people.

Discussion: Causes of Service Workers Being Deemed Less Intelligent

The cause for the improper judgment of service jobs stems from the belief that many people see working as a waitress or production line employee as menial labor. Many people continue to see it this way as if it is not as important as a doctor or lawyer. People besides ourselves can also influence the judgment that has been passed on blue-collar workers. “Although psychologists have long recognized the importance of conformity, it remains unclear why some individuals are more likely to conform…  In these situations, social information often influences our decision” (Smith & Delgado, 2015). Due to the long-imposed verdict of blue-collar workers being not as intelligent as workers of higher standing, many people conform to the idea that most workers, like waitresses and line workers, are of lower intelligence than doctors and lawyers. However, the amount of schooling and training a person has does not determine the amount of intelligence they have acquired, and the amount of their salary does not determine their happiness in life, which is what the author believed to be the line between living and dying. 

Analysis of Treatment

Mike Rose used certain components to communicate his perspective on blue-collar jobs, such as observation and facts. The essay is structured to use these components in the simple way that Rose is literally just telling the reader about his childhood observations of his mother. Rose described and gave an exposition of an afternoon in the diner where his mother works. This helps to lead the reader to the same conclusion as him because he is describing his point of view on the issue. His use of language and facts work together to define the issue and suggest the cause by giving the reader a glimpse into his thoughts so they can see exactly what the issue is.

Conclusions and Future Study

In his essay “Blue Collar Brilliance,” author Mike Rose exposes the judgment passed on service job workers. He offers the explanation that this issue is caused by ignorance of the intelligence that these workers actually have. If people would just observe the actions and thoughts of these blue-collar employees, they would realize that some have the same level of intelligence that a doctor or lawyer would. Researchers taking this subject forward could consider observing waitresses or factory workers at their place of employment and interviewing them afterward.


  1. Rose, M. (2009). Blue Collar Brilliance. In J. Heilker & M. V. Subtirelu (Eds.), Keywords in Composition Studies (pp. 116-118). Utah State University Press.

  2. Smith, E. R., & Delgado, M. (2015). Social Psychology. Psychology Press.

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Mike Rose 'Blue Collar Brilliance' Analysis: Unveiling Intelligence. (2023, Aug 10). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/mike-rose-blue-collar-brilliance-analysis-unveiling-intelligence/