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Fordism And Post Fordism Essay

3037 words - 12 pages

In the early 1920s, when Henry Ford's assembly line had dramatically increased the amount output, the economy and labour system are no longer the same as before. Fordism, which is associated with mass production and mass consumption (Cooke, 1989), has influenced many countries. However, as some sociologists have argued, with the increase of product and consumer differentiation, post-Fordism, with a smaller scale of production as well as consumption is taking place. Yet some other sociologists do not agree with it. They claimed that we are living in a neo-Fordist society, admitting that there are some changes, but not enormous enough to be called a post-Fordist society. To consider which society we are actually living in, different situations and industries need to be looked at in terms of management, technology and work, which also involve cultural differences. It may be concluded that we are living in neither extreme but somewhere between Fordism and post-Fordism, depending on what situation is being considered.Fordism is supposed to be the most important production system in the early twentieth century. It is "the manufacture of standardised products in a huge volumes using special-purpose machinery and unskilled labour."(Tolliday and Zeitlin, 1986, p.1) In terms of technology, the use of fixed machine allows each part of the product to be fitted to the same model in the same way. In this way, mass production is created, and to replace any items of the product would be very easy. With the high level of economies of scale, costs of each unit are remarkably reduced, which brings down the prices of products. Labour process becomes rather simple, for tasks that used to be complicated are broken down into specialised pieces. Workers are required for little skill to finish the tasks, for they would be given direct and simple instructions from managers. They are "united by the trade unions", which are powerful enough to ensure their rights and "negotiate the payment rates nation wide" (Landsman, Class handouts, 2004, unpublished). They enjoy high job security. Most importantly in Fordism, is the introducing of assembly line. Instead of moving workers to products, it allows products to be moved to workers, which saves time for workers switching between work places. Besides, assembly line production frees workers from complex skills of production. All they need to do on the assembly line is the broken-down simple tasks. The introduction of Fordist manufactory, the mass production, has made common men's dream come true--they could all afford a Ford model T motorcar.In Fordist society, the "scientific management" is involved. Developed by F.W. Taylor, who distributed it into "three principles"(Haralambos and Holborn, 2000, p.708), it encourages the practice of Fordism. Firstly, it requires managers to have the production knowledge, by which workers' power may be reduced; secondly, he suggested that the "brain work" and manual work should be separated,...

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