Critically evaluate whether we live in a Fordist, Neo-Fordist or Post-Fordist society.
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Critically evaluate whether we live in a Fordist, Neo-Fordist or Post-Fordist society. When the new black Model-T came off the assembly line and started in Ford's plant in Highland Park (Detroit) 90 years ago, the human industrial society began to change. Looking the same as any previous models, this Model-T was built only in one and a half hours. The saved ninety percent of labour hour rapidly led to 'The First Industrial Divide' of the western world. Even today, how deeply this industrial revolution, the so-called Fordism, had actually affected our society is still a controversial topic. In what following, an analysis of Fordism and Post-Fordism will be conducted concerning both current and historical examples as well as some classical arguments, in order to identify the society we are living in. When referring to the term Fordism, the frame of monotonous and simple jobs, standardized single products, intense industrial relations will occur immediately. One comprehensive definition given by Michel Aglietta (1979) is the 'regime of accumulation involving specific forms of capitalist production as well as social consumption norms.' According to Robin Murray (1989) (Cited by Madry and Kirby, 1996, pp.50), the Fordist production was based on four major principles, which are standardization, mechanization, scientific management and flowline production.
(Perulli, 1999, Lecture) It is trying to convince that the profitable mass production era had passed. Those flexible manufacturers who can provide variety of goods that can feed both mass and niche market will have a larger chance to succeed in the future. According to Alan Warde, this general trend of increasing flexibility can be identified in some following aspects: the changing technology, products, jobs and contracts. In manufacture industry, the benefits of technology mainly came from the use of CAD/CIM (computer aided design/manufacture). Rather than reproducing a new assembly line, the re-programme on machineries can easily switch an assembly line from producing one product to another. Also because of the improvement of automation, the same assembly line was allowed to produce different products at the same time, passing the more complicate work to the machines. On the side of retail industry, the use of EPOS can record and transfer the stock information instantly. Today, if you go to Tesco and buy 20 packs of Mars bars, this information will be recorded in Tesco's database. Reorder will be automatically made if there aren't enough Mars bars are left. The company will also gather and analyses these data in order to decide the quantity of goods that should be purchase.
This phenomenon was stated by Madry and Kirby as 'It appears that, because of the economic recession, the supposed privileges of the core group disappeared'. Moreover, the trend of equally treating full-time and part-time workers is discovered as 'most employers did not regard their part-time workers as 'peripheral' workers, but saw them as a crucial element of the workforce.' (Employment Gazette, 1992, pp.34) To sum up, the determinants of the production method are the economic conditions of the society. Because of the improved technology and other factors that changed the economic conditions in the late 20th century, many traditional Fordist industries have transformed towards Post-Fordism. However, to certain extent, both two types of production methods always exist. Therefore, it is inappropriate to identify a society as 'Fordist society' or 'Post-Fordist Society'. Reference Aglietta, M. (1979) A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: the US Experience, Verso Ltd, London Madry, N & Kirby, H. (1996) Investigating Work, Unemployment and Leisure, Collins Educational, UK Bibliography HEFP Hand Out (2004) De-skilling and Proletanrianization, Organisational Behaviour Perulli, P (1999) Lecture: More Global and More local. Network enterprises and the Benetton case revisited. Professor of Economic Sociology, UMUIA, Venice Warde, A. (1989) The Future of work, Social Studies Review, September Atkinson, J. & Gregory, D. (1985) A Flexible Future: Britain's Dual Labour Force. Marxism Today, April: pp.
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