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The Fordist Period. Essay

2770 words - 11 pages

Fordism is defined as an organisation of industry and work which was seen as asystem of mass production, assembly line work and strict regulation and structuring ofwork tasks (lecture notes). Dramatic changes in the organisation and composition ofwork over the last five decades have seen production becoming more flexible andspecialised enabling a greater variety of goods to be produced. More multi-purposemachinery and equipment have ultimately reduced the size of the workforce thusproducing a more highly skilled and responsible workforce. The traditionalorganisation of work still exists to some extent today recognised within theMcDonalds food chain industry, but there is no longer one model of work but avariety of models in place which are constantly been adapted to the circumstances ofthe individual firm and its workers. This new process of continuous change issometimes described as the "flexible" approach, where workplaces are high in trustand skills (Britain at Work 1998, pp75). This transformation has come about througha variety of reasons, which now will be discussed in detail.Fordism rests upon a set of techniques based on Henry Ford who founded the FordMotor Company in 1903. Ford saw the existing method of production as slow,laborious and inefficient. By introducing a complex division of labour, by breakingdown the process of production into small-individualised parts, Ford reasoned(correctly) that costs could be lowered and profits increased. This production was anew way of thinking and doing, helped made possible by advances in machinery.Productivity could increase whilst decreasing the amount of time needed to produce.Through the assembly system workers had to work at the speed of the man next tohim. This meant standards were set and the speed of production was regulated. Bytaking the skills and knowledge from his workers, Ford also took power! (Fordismexplained from: www.sociologyonline.co.uk, Accessed 30 October 2002)The advantages of this system became apparent at the beginning of the 19th Century.Work was bought or produced in bulk to minimise costs and time. This led to anincreased market for products through mechanisation. The high profits led to higherwages for semi-skilled and unskilled workers, which led to higher standards of livingand more money in people's pockets to spend which helps stabilise the economy.During the 20th Century this type of work organisation spread throughout theindustrialised world. The re-building of industry during the post war period wascentred on the mass production system. This system contributed for several decadestowards a huge growth in productivity and prosperity. It became a role model forsuccessful industries ( Mathias and Davis 1996, Enterprise and Work).The changes in the organisation of work have been through influences frominflation, industrial conflict, competitive pressures, advanced technology and thesocial relations within employment. The most fundamental change is the shift innumbers...

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