Post Fordism

Topics: Social work, Laborer, International Federation of Social Workers Pages: 17 (3620 words) Published: January 7, 2013
Capital & Class 9 ó
means, first, that the author overemphasises
politics and political agency in the
determination of European integration,
failing to anchor this analysis in a broader
appreciation of economic and political
structures and the dynamics of international
capital accumulation as well as in more deeprooted political processes. Consequently, there is a tendency to over-identify core structural
processes such as globalisation and European
integration itself, with specific political agents
(especially the USA) and projects. For
example, contemporary EU integration is
simply identified with a US and global elitesponsored project of transnational neoliberalism. Hence no attempt is made to

critically interrogate the relationship between
integration as such, as form, and neoliberal
integration as a particular contentisation of
integrational structures. In short, Mullen's
study, in common with many other neoGramscian analyses of the efficacy of European integration for the left, essentialises
neoliberalism into core aspects of integration
as such, thereby foreclosing positive left
engagement with the contemporary EU
project. These are clearly issues for
fundamental theoretical debate with
implications for an understanding of the left
and Europe. It is a failing of Mullen's
otherwise commendable study that such
debate is studiously avoided.

Huw Beynon and Theo Nichols (eds.)

Patterns of Work ¡n the Post-Fordist Ero:
Fordism and Post-Fordism
Edgar Elgar, 2006. Vol. 1:494 pp.; Vol. II: 645 pp
ISBN: 978-1-84542-324 7 (hbk) £285

reviewed by Sheila Cohen
Work, it seems, has been 'rediscovered' via
the 'flexible production model'. According
to one contribution to this two-volume
collection on new management techniques
like 'just in time' (JIT) and 'total quality
management' (TQM) have 'given labor a
central role. The "rediscovery" of labor is a
key element in initiatives in many countries
to reorganise production' (Carillo: 472,
Vol. I).
If this is indeed the case, the publication
of this huge work is timely. For some of us, of
course (including its editors), labour needs no
'rediscovery'. For others, the causes and
trajectory of, for example, the decline in trade
union organisation are unclear. 'Policy makers
debating these issues are like firefighters idly
wondering what started the blaze while the
house burns to the ground' (Kapstein: 127, Vol
I). Some real firefighters, like those attacked


by New Labour in 2003, might be able to shed
light on this question.
Why the implied 'invisibility' of labour
pre-TQM, and why the obscurity of causes for
its decline as an organised force.' One seminal
contribution attributes to the 'half right' ('those
who think the New Right is half right') 'a one
eyed view ... that invites the epithet
"consumerist" just as surely as the epithet
"workerist" ... was invited by some Marxists'
(Nichols & Davidson: 583, Vol. II). The notion
that the consumer has subsumed the worker in
today's 'post-industrial' world would indeed
lead to mystification as to the sustained
bedrock of exploitation, intensification of
labour and class aggression underlying the
siren voices of the shopping mall.
And indeed, if the central question posed
by this collection is whether work patterns
have changed significantly in the 'post-Fordist'

era, the substance of the contributions can be
summed up in one 'measured' conclusion
quoted by the editors. 'The picture emerging
from the empirical data ... make it possible
merely to suggest a "neo- rather than a 'post'Taylorist or Fordist concept'" (Huys et al: 28, Vol. II). A contribution on the subject of the
clothing industry supports the
characterisation of 'an emerging neo-Fordist
mode of control as simply another stage in
scientific management' (Taplin: 46, ji, Vol. II),
while in meatpacking, 'Specialisation ... has
meant the intensification of mass production...
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