Fordism, Post-Fordism and the Flexible System of Production

Topics: Marketing, Advertising, Market segmentation Pages: 5 (1199 words) Published: February 18, 2011
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Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Science & Philosophy: Condensation to Cosh » Consumerism - Consumerism And Mass Production, Consumerism And Post-fordism, Soap, The Politics Of Consumerism Consumerism - Consumerism And Post-fordism

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The term post-Fordist has been used to describe the shift from an economy based on mass production and mass consumption of identical goods to one distinguished by "flexible specialization." Production is specialized through the use of technology. The post-Fordist labor force is multiskilled and global, which has eroded the class consciousness of Fordist labor movements. Importantly, consumption has become specialized as well. No longer is there one product designed for the mass of consumers. Instead, products are target marketed to particular niches, using demographics, psychographics, and other marketing techniques. At this point, style becomes the major method of differentiating products. Advertisers encourage consumer desire to become more volatile and individualized. Products are not marketed by extolling their utilitarian value but by proving to the consumer how he or she can use them to display a particular identity to the world. The development of a post-Fordist economy is difficult to pinpoint, though scholars suggest that the 1970s in the industrial West was a turning point. Even within one economy, such as the United States, the development of post-Fordism did not occur unilaterally through all industries. While current Western economies can be described as post-Fordist, Third World economies are not necessarily so, though First World post-Fordism relies on the exploitation of labor, resources, and markets within the Third World. Scholars agree, however, that one of the most significant aspects of the post-Fordist economy is the reliance on market segmentation as opposed to mass consumption. Market segmentation emphasizes particular aspects of a product or creates a particular product to appeal to specific market segments, which are differentiated by income, gender, race, ethnicity, age, geography, and so on. This marketing paradigm developed out of the baby boom of the post–World War II era and the social and identity movements of the 1960s that became the predominant paradigm by the 1970s and 1980s. The social and identity movements of the 1960s suggested that people understood their identities as differentiated by a number of characteristics. In response, advertisers and marketers explored the potential for "breaking up America" and the world into an ever-increasing number of segments of people who had "lifestyles" that were defined by the particular commodities they consumed. The development of cable television is an ideal example. Beginning in the late 1970s, cable networks were designed to appeal to particular types of viewers, whether women (Lifetime), African-Americans (Black Entertainment Television [BET]), and youth (Music Television [MTV]), through the content of their programs as well as the flow of shows and commercials. As important as "signaling" or attracting the desired type of viewers, however, was ensuring that unwanted types of viewers were not watching. Ads by Google

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