Sensors and Status: From the Blue Collar to “Women’s Work”

Today’s post could have become a full-blown research project, but it’s more rewarding at this stage to publish it as a chain of ponderings that you in turn can help parse.  This particular chain emerged from some comments that my sister Emily jotted on an early draft of my last post, the Gifted Sensor.

See, as I parsed the differences between MBTI sensors (S) and intuitives (N) (here’s a quick overview if you’re not familiar with those concepts), the work of famed sociologist C. Wright Mills said came to mind, and I jotted it in the draft: Mills once defined blue collar workers as those who manipulate objects while white collar workers manipulate symbols.  So it sounds an awful lot like those who have great skills in the concrete—i.e., strong sensors—are born with a preset destiny to earn less socioeconomic status??

And that blue text?  My sister filled that in.  I had left the sentence incomplete, and she took the opportunity to direct our thoughts.  So help us out here, friends: where is Emily’s insight more or less applicable, and what are the implications?

I’ll use the rest of this post to share where I think this leads.

It seems to me that Mills’ blue collar workers’ manipulation of objects is a essentially an analogue for sensing work, as sensors thrive in physical reality, while his white collar manipulation of symbols means work in which an intuitive’s preference for the abstract and theoretical comes in handy.

And in our society, blue collar workers are generally given lower social status than white collar workers.  This is a generalization, of course; I’m reminded of a friend who works as an analyst for a federal agency who told me once that she really should have become a plumber and that maybe it wasn’t too late.  They make good money, after all, and don’t have to sit at a computer all day!

Despite this observation, she didn’t quit her analyst job and become a plumber.  I didn’t ask her why, but we can imagine several potential reasons that any given analyst wouldn’t do this: because she actually would rather sit at a computer than lie prone in cramped spaces; because she prefers to wear suits to overalls; because she doesn’t have the remotest interest in learning about pipes; because she lacks the necessary manual dexterity; the analyst’s hours are better; and so on.  Oh yeah, and here’s a big one to consider: that doing analytical work is easier for her than manipulating pipes.

If you’ll allow for a side note here: my friend is actually an ISTJ.  Many people with a mild preference for sensing hold what I’m describing as “intuitive jobs.”  Remember this is on a spectrum: my friend is a moderate S who likes manipulating facts (as opposed to ideas) but does it by abstracting them on paper, as compared to a strong S who likes manipulating actual objects.  A moderate N might be an inventor whose ideating is only one step away from physical application, while a strong N always wants to be 30,000 feet above the physical world, the better to get a broad view of systems and narratives; this is the archetypal college professor or talking head.

At any rate, whatever my individual friend’s motives, isn’t it likely enough that any given government analyst chose that job over the potentially more lucrative but physically taxing career of plumbing because we award more status to the analyst?

If so, what are the implications?

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This in turn made me want to ponder the nature of our economic system.  Long before capitalism, when we lived at the subsistence level, there was no surplus to sell for profit.  Then the lords kicked the serfs off their land, and entrepreneurship was born.  It was the only way for those ex-serfs to survive!  And because they were now subject to the pressures of competition, they had to rely on ideas to out-compete the other guy.  Those ideas, in turn, manifested as technology.  This was not merely the way to wealth; it was necessary to survive.  So the status we afford technology surely has its roots in the nature of capitalism.

Once toilets had been invented, plumbers were born.  And they did useful work, but they didn’t create surplus wealth: rather, their services require that we spend our wealth to maintain what we have.

This suggests two separate ways of contributing to quality of life.  We can do so by devising something new that resolves a problem, changing the status quo; or we can do the maintenance work for that status quo.  This points to one obvious tangent regarding solar panel developers vs. the archetypal Trump-voting Appalachian coal miner…

…but I want to go in a different direction, so put that aside for a moment.  Here’s my question: under our advanced capitalism economy, what economic purpose do most ideas primarily serve?  Is it quality of life?

As far as I can tell, the answer is frequently no.  Quality of life is merely a hypothetical secondary goal.  The primary goal is profit, because that keeps the capitalist engine turning.  To be sure, when Alexander Cumming invented that S-shaped pipe that keeps stinky sewer gas out of our dwellings, he was doing it from a quality of life perspective as much as a desire to profit from his patent.  But as we solve more and more of our most pressing quality of life problems, we still need the capitalist engine to keep churning.  And so we depend increasingly on the construction of artificial needs.  There’s even a whole profession devoted to this: advertising!  The advertiser’s job is to make us think they’re selling us a quality of life increase, but the actual psychological effect of their work, if successful, is to create in you a need you didn’t previously have, which strikes me as the opposite of a quality of life increase.

On the broader subject of marketing and related innovating careers, Emily chimed in: [These people are] stressing out the sensing people who are already fully capable of doing “concrete tasks” just fine the current way. We don’t need new apps to make grocery shopping easier! It’s just another abstract thing I have to learn about.

Marketing is, of course, a highly intuitive job, all about abstractions.  It’s also a high status one.  Sure, we may get annoyed by commercial breaksbut we also talk about Super Bowl commercials as though they’re some kind of pleasurable art form, and the show Mad Men was a major hit.

Meanwhile, as we try to get as big a share of the surplus as possible so we can meet our artificial need for iPhone n+1, we have less time and energy to meet our more basic needs.  You know, those needs that we had that date all the way back in the subsistence era: things like food and child care.

And now we come to the other group that Emily immediately recognized as being stuck with less status because of their focus on sensing work: women!  See, another category of sensing work is what’s been known as “women’s work.”  When the lords kicked out the serfs, they didn’t keep the serfs’ moms and wives and make the serfs start paying them for their contribution to the harvest.  Women just kept doing the essential work they had always been stuck doing without pay.  It’s not like children can pay for their moms’ labor.

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And those concrete, present-focused jobs that are so basic to the maintenance of our lives didn’t go away.  Someone’s had to do them all along; those people have generally been women.  Women still struggle today to balance their desire for a chance at status with the fact that this work still needs to get done and no one else is really stepping in to do it, as I’ve discussed before.

So even as some women (especially intuitive women) have been freed somewhat from this work, are we giving those who are doing this essential sensing work their due?  I say we’re not.

Let’s say our intuitive woman has a husband and they decide to have a kid.  They consider the possibility that one of them become a stay-at-home parent, but each earns (just barely!) more than sum of the cost of childcare and the Blue Apron subscription they’ll need because neither of them has time to think about meals and go grocery shopping.

But what just happened here, economically speaking?  The work of caring for the child and doing the grocery shoppingtraditionally female sensing labor that did not contribute (at least in the eyes of economists) to the economynow it magically does!  Because while caring for your own family doesn’t add to GDP, caring for a stranger’s does!

This is why I assert that we don’t give this kind of essential sensing work its economic due, and this is where the wages for housework campaign of the 1970s came from, and is one of the arguments in support of the modern idea of universal basic income.

Even if watching someone else’s kids can get you a paycheck, however, it’s still not high status work.  We live in a system in which value is represented by profit, which tends to be created by the intuitives and flows downhill to the sensors.  But sensing work is at the foundation of the pyramid of our needs.  We look down on it from our perch at the top of the pyramid, but without it, we come crashing down.

Consider our intuitive woman’s husband: what if I told you that he’s actually an ESFJ?  He likes the idea of addressing people’s basic, concrete needs, doing work with his hands to maintain a household, whether it’s fixing the plumbing himself or making dinner or changing diapers and engaging the baby.

Unfortunately, he knows that even if he’s willing to take the paycheck hit in the present (only a small one once we cut out the cost of childcare and Blue Apron), none of these things build his resume.  They don’t afford him status.  He’s terribly afraid that without status, he might not be able to get his future needs met.  Who, he fears, will hire a stay-at-home dad at age 45 when it’s time to pay for baby’s college?  He couldn’t possibly compete with all those intuitives have been out there abstracting all these years.

It’s not exactly great for his quality of life.

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All these people are keeping the present together.  They are meeting real needs, not creating new ones.  They don’t drive the wheel of capitalism, but they are the foundation on which that wheel is built.

Frankly, if it weren’t for the sensors in my life, I don’t know where I’d be.  Ask anyone who is trying to work with me on executing a complex operation in concrete space (e.g., cooking) to come up with words to describe me, and “gifted” and “capable” are not likely to be on that list.  When my toilet overflows, I’m useless, but the Latino maintenance man who shows up to save the day too often gets looked down upon. When the researcher at NIH working on genetic medicine gets sick, it’s the nurse (perhaps even more than the doctor, who is likely to be a moderate S to the average nurse’s strong S) who gives her what she needs to get back to health.

It all comes back to quality of life, and how we contribute to it.

Maybe we poor ex-serfs are forever doomed to live in a system where quality of life must always be a secondary focus, pursuing profit until the effort destroys us.  Maybe there’s another way; that’s what socialists and other heterodox and visionary economists believe, at any rate.

But that’s the subject for another post.  For now, we can at least think about status and respect, and how and why we award it.  Because where we bestow our status suggests our priorities.  Why don’t we spare some for the people who keep us fed, who keep us warm, who do the unglamorous work of keeping society churning?

To return to my star metaphor: while we’re all busy admiring those intuiting supernovae, the Sun is a sensor of a starkeeping the practicalities of life plugging along reliably.

And to this Emily adds, Can I get a Hell Yeah! 😉

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Image credits: sasint, Alexas_fotos, Bhakti2, caio_triana

18 thoughts on “Sensors and Status: From the Blue Collar to “Women’s Work”

  1. “Marketing is, of course, a highly intuitive job, all about abstractions.”

    Aaaaand it just hit me like a ton of bricks why I have so much trouble marketing my books! LOL.

    I honestly don’t know why this never occurred to me. I’m a fairly strong S according to the tests I’ve taken, and marketing seems like … this weird swirling cloud of stuff I can’t define, and if I did define it, I still wouldn’t know what to DO with it, because it’s not like there’s a defined path to getting it right.

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    1. Hah! That makes sense, Jen! And I’ve often thought that marketing would be the perfect job for me because it lets you soar at 30,000 and make all sorts of connections that you have to be at that level to see, if only I didn’t think it were basically a horrible profession. (Which is not to say that all attempts at getting your message out there are horrible in the way that the broader profession of advertising is. The former is a good faith attempt at communication with little to no manipulation….)

      S and N are fundamental to so many things. Even if people don’t care for the rest of the MBTI, I maintain that this preference is worth pondering!

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  2. There’s a book by Matthew Crawford called Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work that presents manual work as both more challenging and satisfying than office work, even that in a prestigious think tank. He also makes the case that manual workers have an economic advantage because your car maintainance and plumbing can’t be outsourced to China. There is also an interesting parallel with gifted education – sensors also suffer because the kind of classes they need, the titular shop class, car mechanics, cookery, electronics, other trades, have been discontinued largely in favour of higher status computer classes.

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    1. I’m certain that there’s something to that assertion. Many people are in prestigious office jobs like that here in DC are nevertheless depressed and professionally listless, judging from my circle of friends and acquaintances. And I agree that there’s a parallel with gifted education! Indeed, the word “gifted” reflects the status we bestow on intuitive work, but people can certainly have gifts for doing all those kinds of things you mention. I would have gotten put in the remedial courses…but I wish I could go back and take them. Maybe it’s not too late. (They say age 35 is when you start developing your inferior function, which is the age I am now. And I’m learning to cook! Sort of. Maintaining a functional kitchen just takes so much mental bandwidth…no wonder Blue Apron and carefully marketed restaurants do so well in DC.)

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      1. I spent the morning boarding over the joists and rockwool in the cellar to help with insulation. (If you ever do this and think it would be a good opportunity to use up some old nails, don’t. Use a drill, screws and an electric screwdriver and preserve your sanity). I’ve spent the afternoon reading about the psychology of spiritual fads and fad diets and moved on to considering what types of changes are best (or can only be) made gradually and which are best (or can only be) made rapidly. I’m doing the splits between the S and the N. 🙂

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        1. Question for you! Have you always had a good split between them, or only recently developed this balance?

          I myself have recently begun an effort to go do more sensing things, and to even try to get good at them. I have read that we begin to develop our inferior functions (sensing is mine) at…age 35. Which is how old I am now. Go figure.

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          1. I’ve always had it. In the cellar there’s a metal rod I blacksmithed into a spiral when I was seven. I remember the last part was hard but I thought about it and came up with a solution, but looking at it now I can’t figure out how I did it. In school when I was about nine or ten they had us build little bridges out of paper straws and sellotape. Mine was elegant, bordering on flimsy, but it held many times more weight than anyone else’s and had nearly run out of room to put more weights when it finally failed. The first time I tried to break an egg one-handed it worked perfectly. The first time I attempted to break two eggs simultaneously to show off, even that worked perfectly. If I thought about it I could probably come up with dozens of examples, some of them involving a chainsaw.

            It isn’t a universal ability. It took me longer than most children to learn to tie shoelaces. I still lack the disposition for knots. My attempts at going to a rope bondage class were just embarrassing. 🙂

            But this is part of the reason I’m leery of MBTI. It didn’t make sense that intuition and sensing were classed as opposites when I could do both. I fact before you brought it up, I assumed that with the exception of an occasional total klutz or absent minded professor, being gifted meant being good at both. I have a similar reticence to the distinction between thinking and feeling because for me the two are so tightly entwined that, except under very limited circumstances, I can’t imagine how they could be separated.

            As well as cooking what other sensing things are you trying your hand at?

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          2. So, as I’ve been talking to my strong-S sister and moderate-S mom this week, I have come to develop what I really think is a test for being a gifted sensor. It’s not exactly the same as being good with concrete objects; using tools, after all, can be fun for intuitives, provided they’re using them to achieve some innovative impulse or vision.

            The test is this: do you think you could organize a moderate to large event, keeping track of all the various details of practical things that need to get done? If you wouldn’t be daunted by, say, professionally organizing a big event (think conference or big wedding), then you count as a gifted sensor.

            I wonder if this will work for others. Perhaps we have to refine it, but this gets closer to what those mystical S’s can do that I can’t do nearly so well, or without a lot more mental energy!

            (This came up because, to answer your question, planning events is something else I’m trying to get good at! And on that note, that’s where the absent-minded professors — which is a caricature that I definitely fit, as do many of my magnet program friends — really struggle! But those same absent-minded scientists may well use their intuition to build innovative bridges out of paper. That definitely struck me as intuition at work right there.)

            One other note on MBTI: it’s important to remember that these are preferences and it IS possible for a person to be good at both sensing and intuition, or both thinking and feeling. The thing I find most useful about MBTI, in fact, is that it gives us language to talk about these concepts. I do still think it holds true that people almost always have a preference, but some don’t know themselves well enough or understand the concepts well enough to determine them, while others may truly be ambiverts in any realm. 🙂 What I really find counterproductive is when people just take the test and don’t try to dig into what the functions imply, and how they really manifest.

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          3. That’s interesting. I’d never thought of project management as a sensor thing. It’s not something I’ve ever really done but it intrigues me and if the management consulting thing goes anywhere I’ll get to find out. 🙂

            Another thing that may be related – I’m good at travel planning and train times. I can also stare at a map for 5-10 minutes, memorize a route and follow it days later with no problems, even in a town I’ve never been to before. Do you or Emily have that as well? I don’t know if it’s a rare ability as people who aren’t naturally good at it still have to do it out of necessity.

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          4. I’ve always been good with maps, exactly in keeping with the “I’m good at it because I love it” saying in Japanese (that’s the line I keep writing in Japanese in various posts – 好きこそものの上手なれ). I liked to study the globe for long periods at Montessori and pore over atlases on car rides. So I don’t memorize routes; I just absorb the whole map and then can tell you how to get somewhere. I met another friend who was like this; her name was Pam and she joked that her name was “map backward” because she liked maps so much!

            I don’t think this is necessarily a sensing or an intuiting skill; you can come at this from either direction.

            Management consulting is also quite different from running an event, if I understand management consulting correctly. Well, actually, I don’t really understand what management consultants do; it seems like something lots of people here in DC do to avoid paltry federal salaries. (That was kind of a joke. Sort of.) But I do know that I don’t think most management consultants have the skills needed to be event planners. Think wedding planning here, or holding huge receptions and making sure everything is in place and it goes off without a hitch, so the Governor doesn’t get mad. (I helped work on a reception at the Michigan State Capitol in 2012. I was glad I wasn’t directing it.)

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          5. Consulting is different – a kind of cross between organisational methods and group therapy for an organisation. 🙂 But the company I’m hoping to work with does construction projects so I’d experience that through them. By reputation the building trade and site logistics is an ‘abandon hope all ye who enter here’ kind of thing. 🙂

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          6. Ah, I see. That does make sense. I do see a lot of 30,000-foot intuition in that; admittedly, it’s a blend (yes, everything’s a blend), but the reason I see executing a successful event as the ultimate sensing test is that you have to be tuned in to little details without getting to spend a lot of time ideating (someone else generally gets to do that part)…you just figure out all the little things, logistics, glue that holds the ideas together…and make sure it happens, and keep all those little details in mind, sometimes with very little ideating content to glue them together, and orchestrate them seamlessly under time pressure, and with lots of hoity-toity guests potentially ready to disparage you if you fail. That’s about the maximum of S-power in any job that I can think of.

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  3. Regarding social status of jobs, In my opinion the main factors determining a job social status would be: how high the wages are, how difficult the job is perceived to be by general population and how much control over society does it give.

    The third factor is the easiest to determine why it is in favour of intuitive jobs, since this are basically leadership jobs which are mostly intuitive jobs.

    The second factor is also not that hard to understand since most intuitive jobs require some sort of collage degree, while most sensing jobs require some sort of vocational education (or no education at all). Most of this is simply because it is much easier to train a random person to be a good enough plumber then to train him to be a good enough inventor. The main exception here are doctors as they have to have a degree which is also one of the more difficult degree to get, so doctors get a much higher social status than other sensing jobs.

    The first factor is most difficult to determine why it is in favour of intuitive jobs. One reason is that intuitive jobs provide higher surplus wealth as you have already argued. However, I disagree with the importance you assign to this. Mainly due to plumbers not being the best example. If you consider some other sensory job for example assembly line workers who turn raw materials (or half products) into a product which is worth more than the materials it consists of, therefore producing surplus wealth. So while intuitive jobs produce higher surplus wealth, sensory jobs still produce surplus wealth.

    The other factor for higher wages for intuitive jobs than sensory jobs that I think you missed is simple supply and demand. Firstly, since most intuitive jobs require higher education than sensory jobs this already creates a barrier to entry into most intuitive jobs. Secondly, sensing vs. intuition is the only MBTI pair that is not split approximately 50-50, as a majority of people have a preference for sensing (according to sources I could find it is approximately 73% vs 27% in favour of sensing). Finally you have to add to that the fact that many western countries have been deindustrialising in the last few decades (USA has been hit especially hard) therefore increasing the percentage of all jobs that are intuitive. All of this means there is an oversupply of of people preferring sensing for the amount of available sensory jobs, and an under supply of people preferring intuition for the amount of intuitive jobs available, driving intuitive jobs wages up and sensory jobs wages down.

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    1. Jakob, welcome! Thanks for this thoughtful response to my post. You raise a lot of good points to ponder.

      Hmm, so, I should have taken care to separate these two questions: what determines status presently, and what should determine status. Granting that this goes off on a tangent that some may see as idealistic, do you think those factors you listed are what should determine social status? If not, how would you encourage people to award status, to the extent that they as individuals are able to? (I, of course, think that ideally, in a healthy society, it would be their contribution to people’s well being, i.e., quality of life.)

      On leadership tending to be intuitive…I’m glad you brought that up, because I actually pondered this in my article and didn’t go into it because it would have been a tangent, but it might be that business leadership is actually one of the places where sensors do have a better shot at a status job than intuitives. It’s not clear to me that we can claim that CEOs, for instance, tend to be intuitives. On one hand, I’ve heard stories of intuitives struggling in corporate leadership, where they had less time for ideating and had to pay more attention to facts on the ground; on the other hand, some of the more famous CEOs (the Steve Jobs and Elon Musk types) are famed precisely because of their intuitive tendencies. But this site names the ESTJ profile “the executive,” and for good reason. It notes that this is a popular type for US presidents, and I believe it; presidents, of course, can’t be as visionary as Silicon Valley CEOs, and not all CEOs work in Silicon Valley. At any rate, I don’t think we can claim that intuitive types have the edge in leadership without a more defined niche.

      Doctors are also an interesting example; sensors often thrive in the profession, but med school (or the classes that get you into it) can be a place where intuitives can thrive, too, and I think House, the doctor in the TV show of the same name, is a good (if idealized) example of a strong N doctor. Medicine has room for both Ss and Ns, with surgeons being the epitome of the strong S.

      Supply and demand of sensors and intuitives is worth exploring, and brings us to an interesting point: because as you note most high paying jobs now tend to value intuition, a lot of people try to get intuition-based jobs whether they have a preference for intuition themselves or not. But a lot of them end up as baristas because they can’t find a job that uses their intuitively-skilled degree (and anecdotal evidence cautions me against assuming that these people are sensing types whose preference was too strong for them to cut it in intuitive jobs). One could argue that these are the ones who “chose the wrong major,” but I’ve seen it happen to bright people with bachelors’ degrees in STEM, too.

      And meanwhile, as those with fancy, expensive degrees work at Starbucks, there’s a shortage of electricians, roofers, masons, and other such essential sensing jobs: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-skilled-workers-jobs-20160902-snap-story.html And of nurses: http://www.truthaboutnursing.org/faq/nursing_shortage.html

      (And I really love to sing the praises of nurses. Doctors at least get status and a higher paycheck. Nurses actually have to clean up people’s poop, and throw out their backs trying to lift patients, and do other essential care work. Nurses have my vote for being perhaps the most admirable profession in the world. Teachers are up there, too.)

      You’re right that my surplus value point needs some refining, so I particularly appreciate your critical eye there. I think I should have dug more into the notion that ideas are frequently embodied as technology. The assembly line workers are producing surplus wealth, but the most important tool they’re using to do that is the assembly line itself, which was the idea of Henry Ford. (We can’t know his MBTI type, but inventing was an act of intuition. This website has voters narrowly naming him an ENTJ, with ESTJ a close runner up.) Using someone else’s innovation can still get you status, though, if the innovation is complicated enough: compare the status of miners in the past to modern mining technicians, who are certain to be using complex machinery to accomplish their task.

      Thanks again for the thoughts…there is a lot to ponder carefully here, and I welcome your further thoughts or those of anyone else who might stumble along!

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      1. Some more thoughts:

        The three factor I mentioned in my original comment are what in my opinion currently determines social status of jobs. I do not have much problem with social status being determined by these three factors, however I disagree whit how wages are currently determined as I think they should be a lot more dependant on how much a job contributes to society, rather than as it is determined in the current system. So in an ideal world social status would also be indirectly determined by how much does a job contribute to society.

        Regarding leadership jobs, they should probably be split in two categories, upper management and lower management. Upper management (what I original incorrectly named leadership jobs) would be people who are responsible for the direction an organisation is heading into and think of new ways for the organisation to stay relevant, ahead of competition etc. This jobs I still think are better suited for people preferring intuition (if they are truly getting more and more dominated by people with preference for sensing, it wold explain a lot of the stagnation the west is currently suffering from). Then there is the lower management (which I completely forgot about in the original comment), which would be the people who then figure out how to most efficiently implement ideas created by upper management. These would be the jobs dominated by the ESTJ type you mentioned.

        I am a aware of shortages of many skilled labor professions such as plumbers, electricians, nurses etc. (I originally planed to talk about it, but my comment was getting long and it was past midnight, so I skipped it) It is caused by finite speed of information and reluctance of people to change their opinion, so when there is a shortage in some profession, everybody tries to get a job there even after the shortage has been resolved, creating an oversupply of labor in this profession and shortages elsewhere (usually in professions which were previously considered to have bad prospects, thus raising wages there and making those professions more prospective).

        Finally some more thoughts on your surplus value theory:

        Firstly you should probably rename it since it is easy to confuse it with Marxist surplus value concept, however despite being similar, it is not the same as than a plumber would also create surplus value, since you pay him more to fix your plumbing then the value of spare parts he installed into your plumbing (I had to reread this part of your original post to figure this out).

        Than there is the question of assembly line and assembly line workers. The important part to note here is that while workers without the assembly line still produce surplus value (though less), an assembly line without workers is totally useless as it dose not produce any surplus value (or anything else).

        So why is Henry Ford awarded so much prestige for inventing the assembly line despite the fact that worker working there are more important? Because the concept of assembly line can be applied over and over to different factories without it getting damaged, or having to be reinvented for each factory. So if you rearrange one factory according to the principle of an assembly line you incur a cost of 1 unit, but if you rearrange 10 factories you will only incur a cost of 1.1 units (the number are obviously not a real world example but just some very rough estimates). On the other hand if you make products using manual labor, making 1 product will cost you 1 unit, making two products will cost you 2 units and so on.

        This means that when intellectual work is done, the same work can than be sold over and over again with almost no extra work needed, while if you want to sell manual work you can only sell it once. If you want to sell it twice you have to perform the labor twice.

        In this way if a person who performed intellectual labor is good at monopolising it (patent and copyright laws) he can sell the same labor over and over, make obscene profits and therefore gain very high social status (since he maid a lot of money).

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        1. What’s striking to me here is the role of ideas and how we respond to them and the people who produce them. Intuitives are a smaller percentage of the population (approx. 25 to Sensors’ 75, as you’ve noted)…but in terms of the number of ideas we really can support, we may actually have too many intuitives, at least in terms of being able to support all the ideating they do. The hard work really comes in with the people at the assembly line. Without those people to do the work (and to build the assembly line in the first place), then it doesn’t get done. So it’s good that we have fewer intuitives than sensors. We need more sensors; or at least we need more people to do sensing work, and to do it well (which probably means a natural sensor, not an absent-minded strong N who gets lost in her own ideating). Here I’m certainly not trying to take away status from the intuitive — having ideas is great! — I think we should give more status (in various forms) to the people doing the grunt work to make those abstractions into something concrete. It’s this imbalance that concerns me the most.

          Also, I never named my idea about the creation of wealth; nor do I think it even qualifies as a theory at this stage! 🙂 I originally meant only to remind us of that first, tangible surplus — the extra grain we can sell after consuming the rest of it to live. Beyond that, while I think there’s something to surplus value created by plumbers, I don’t think that relates to status creation, though it should!

          And you may be right about upper and lower management; though I can think of some examples of where it works the opposite way — the lower management ideates, and the upper management picks out the ideas they like and direct their implementation. Sometimes this is what an organization needs most. In my limited experience, the person who rises to the top is the person who provides the missing skill — ideating or concrete direction. We actually had this happen in my socialist org recently. It was chock full of ideators to begin with — because who but an N would bother to join a group that envisions a theoretical better world? — but recently, with our surge of membership, we’ve seen a lot of people with much stronger sensing abilities (they may or may not still call themselves Ns, but relative to the previous members, they come across as strong sensors to me!) stepped into several leadership positions, and now we are a very different sort of organization, with a lot more concrete deliverables. But I’m just musing here; it would be something to investigate in more depth!

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  4. I wonder if status is related more to the thinking versus feeling dichotomy rather than sensing versus intuition? Watching the olympics, I’d say almost all elite athletes would be sensors, as are most doctors/surgeons I know. ‘Women’s work’ is traditionally feeling as well as sensing – this combination perhaps is the lowest paid? Though not many intuitive feeling types are CEOs either…

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    1. I think it’s absolutely true that feeling is regarded with less status than thinking. On the other hand, that seems to be more widely known, and manifests differently. Emotional labor, which is traditionally done by women, is another layer of this issue, which relates to the feeling preference (though is not the same thing! Ts also need to do this work and get in trouble for not doing it). But that doesn’t really cover another type of work that is traditionally dumped on females–but sensing does! So it’s worth looking at this as well as T/F. I think it’s especially important in the context of this particular blog, since I talk about giftedness, what that means, and what status should or shouldn’t be bestowed upon it.

      And you’re right: there are certainly high-status sensors out there. At the same time, there are loads out there doing essential work without getting much credit. That’s the theme that seems really worth developing here, if I pick this up and run with it further….

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