Fordism

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Practice essay on Fordism and post-Fordism
1. Does it matter whether we are in a Fordism, neo-Fordism or post-Fordism society? 8. Critically examine the differences between Fordism and post- Fordism

Answer for question 8
As the economic changed significant over the past years, many people argued that there was a transition from Fordism to post Fordism. Both systems have a close relationship with people’s life because they have a great impact to our society. In this essay, I’m going to clarify the differences between these two systems by using several authoritative theories.

In the early twentieth century, the American engineer Frederick W. Taylor inspired the notion of scientific management. His key argument was that failures in production were the result of bad management, Taylor argued that management needed to seize control of the work process, and to do this they needed a scientific understanding of that process. He believed the use of productivity incentives to encourage a higher work rate. Taylor desired to break jobs down into the simplest tasks, so reducing the level of skill required and therefore the wage rate.

The manufacturer Henry Ford from 1908 most famously developed Taylor’s approach in car- maker onwards. The origin of the term “ Fordism” lies in the method of production of the Ford motorcar. Fordism was based on standard mass production techniques. It involved the use of moving assembly line and workers performed repetitive tasks which required little training or skill. The parts used were designed so that they could be assembled easily. Machines were used to produce mass products. The result was that cars were produced more cheaply, though without any great level of choice. (the famous ‘ any color as long as it is black’) Labour costs were held down because there is little need to employ skilled labour even anybody can do the job. Because of the mass production, the capital costs and overheads were very low so that the price for consumer was relatively low. However, there were some problems of this model in the later development. For example, the dependence of Fordism on economic stability was exposed by the growth of competition in the 1920s and the later economic depression of the 1920s and 30s.

From Braverman’s point of view, such production methods that combined with scientific management do indeed deskill work and make it easier for management to control the labour process. Skill content of work reduced to a minimum by breaking the down tasks in to simplest components and therefore unskilled workers can carry out the parts of production. Braverman saw deskilling as the product of management decisions rather than technology. Consequently, his views are called into question therefore there are many arguments about Fordism is outdated and is being replaced.

The Fordist system fell into crisis in the 1970s and the possible consequences of this led to talk of a transition from Fordism to post-Fordism. The proponents of post-Fordism argue that the economic changes in the 1970s signaled the end of Fordism. This was partly because the economic stability it required was undermined such as on the 9th December 1973, the oil price quadrupled and The Russian grain harvest failed in 1971 and 1972 leading to high inflation. It also because consumers were no longer happy to put up with the mass- produced range of goods Fordism offered and were looking more choice. Furthermore, living standard of working class has changed significantly since 1950s. The idea of embourgeoisement appeared in the society while the economic gains from rising home ownership and also rising of standard of living. There were many better educated workforce and they felt that they could make a decision on the work because education became as a first right. Therefore the Fordism system was no longer able to operate either as a mode of production or as a mode of regulation. (Shorter)

M.J. Piore and C.F. Sabel, The Second...
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