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"My Father Worked At Ford. He Hated It – It Was Just Like School Or Prison." Discuss The Above Statement Focusing On The Ideas Of Michel Foucault.

1208 words - 5 pages

When you look back on how the Ford motorcar factory was run 90 years ago in comparison to how it is run now, you can say that a lot has changed. But in terms of the management system (Taylorist approach) and the main objectives (increased labour = maximum productivity), not much has changed at all. The writer will take a deeper insight into the school/ prison theory at Ford and will relate it to Michel Foucault's ideas.

By 1923 the Ford motor company was producing 2000 cars per day compared to its 27 Model – T cars 15years earlier. This was made possible because of the management systems and techniques that were used in order to increase productivity.

When Henry ford first introduced the assembly line to the Ford motor company, it became a critical turning point that would change the motor industry forever. Years earlier, motor companies would need highly skilled well-paid craftsman that could carry out complicated jobs with precision. The idea of deskilling work came when it became clear that there were not enough craftsmen to produce cars in 'mass'.

In the 1936 film Modern times illustrates a near perfect example of Taylorism in the factory of the Electro Steel corp. The Big boss has a two-way screen with on-line audio and video transmission where he can view all parts of the plants operation. He spends most of his time relaxing in he's tennis court sized office reading newspapers and playing puzzles. The boss dictates the speed of the assembly line to his foreman. Pure Taylorism i.e. Thinker – Doer.

When the assembly line came into use, it became clear that it was a tailor-made assembly line that was made to suit the interests of the Bosses, which meant productivity. The needs of the factory worker were not considered and working conditions were poor. The protection of the factory worker was not a priority and many workers were injuring themselves on a regular basis. This is an example of their worthlessness to the company. Consistent supervision of the factory worker played a major part of the entire Taylor system. The human rights of the factory workers were so limited that people started comparing working at the Ford motor company to being in prison. The control over the pace that the employee worked at was stolen from every employee. Prisoners in jail have no control over their scheduling so therefore it can be argued that workers were being treaded like prisoners.

The Panoptical was a design build by J.Benthem. This was a new design that was purposely used for prisons. The design was made in such a way that it was possible for prison officers to view all prison cells while being situated in one place. The design was based around two circles, an outer circle (where the prisoners cells are situated) and an inner circle (where the officers can sit and view the prisoners without being seen). Michel Foucault took the basic skeleton of the panoptical design and went on to describe how people would behave themselves if they thought they...

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