To what extent has there been a transition to post-Fordist modes of work?
The Fordist period is described as reigning from the 1920's until the early 1970's. It operated on a system of electro-mechanical mass production and marketing techniques, and predominately utilised a semi- skilled labour force that were paid a decent wage in return for assembly line work. The standardized goods produced were marketed at affordable prices, meaning that the workers could purchase the fruits of their labour. The cyclical nature of Fordism enabled economic growth at local and national levels (Amin, 1997, Pp 1-40). By the 1970's, however, economic growth had become stagnant, partly due to the trade unions' success in securing higher labour wages but also to increasing competition from the world economy (Bilton, 2002, pp. 54-57), growing diversity of consumer demands and scepticism in Keynesian policies (Anderson, 1997, pp. 280 - 281, Spybey, 1997. pp. 442 - 445). This forced changes in existing and newly emerging industries, arguably leading to the adoption of a flexible manufacturing system and workforce: the post-Fordist mode of work (Bilton, 2002, Pp. 54-57). Sociologists, Economists and other interested parties frequently argue back and forth to what degree - if at all - this switch has occurred. This essay will aim to analyse to what extent there has been a transition to a post-Fordist mode of work.
It is posited that the rigidity of mass production and marketing techniques of Fordism have been replaced by flexible "microelectronic based products, processes and communication networks" (Amin, 1997 pg. 17). Further, that this has resulted in quick-change goods production and a surge of niche markets, which have catered to the individualism of consumers, rejuvenated economic growth and reduced industry input costs. Post-Fordism is depicted - to some degree - as being information and communication technology (ICT) deterministic, markedly through innovative engineering science and technology wares capital (Amin, 1997 pp. 1-40). ICT has incontrovertibly reduced many of the problematic time and space issues experienced in the past; for example, business meetings can now be held via video conferencing and data can be transferred across the world at the press of a button. Pan-global interconnected communication systems have benefited business dealings such as stock management and market research; internet search engines allow consumers to access an array of products that they can duly purchase with ease from anywhere in the world. Moreover, monetary affairs can be managed via online banking and insurance services. There has also been development of computer numerical controlled manufacturing apparatus and computer aided design programmes. Such equipment has proved beneficial for automobile, aerospace and advertising industries.
Still, it seems that the flexibility of ICT is largely...