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Fordist society

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Our society has been changing all the time, bases on the fundamental innovations occurred at workplaces. Since 1970s, the UK society has been undergoing significant changes in many aspects, moving forward from a traditional industrialized society. As an important part of this process, methods of organizing production are also changing considerably. From a Fordist society to a post-Fordist society, our society has operated towards more scientific and flexible production regimes. This essay is hearted on assessing both types of production regimes and compares their differences. Fordist society started in early 20th century. Fordism is named after its pioneer, the car maker Henry Ford. It is an "industrial system involved the mass production of standardized goods by huge, integrated companies. Each company was composed of many different, specialized departments each producing components and parts that were eventually channelled towards the moving line for final assembly." (Cohen & Kennedy, 2000, p62) The term Fordism, is coined by Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist, writing in his prison notebooks on Americanism and Fordism in the early 1930s. (Kirby, 1997, p340) There are inseparable linkages between Fordism and scientific management, or so-called Taylorism. Fordism is considered as an extension of Frederick Taylor's scientific management. In 18th century, Adam Smith, one of the founders of modern economics, identified advantages of division of labour in term of increasing productivity. ...read more.


(Madry and Kirby, 1996, pp.54) As Fordism come down, soon the concept of post-Fordism or flexible specialization has become the main production regime in many developed countries. Along with the changed world's political and economic atmosphere, especially in the 1970s when it was believed that Keynesian-regulatory model of regulated capitalism was running out of steam, those conditions were all seriously weakened. It is believed that the process of deregulation, globalisation and privatization pushed the world economy to a much more competitive level and therefore empowered the market to determine the social production. The fatal defects of Fordism had thus been approached. Having lost the government protection as well as the stable and predictable mass demand, firms can only survive by rapidly adjusting their products to cope with the changing market demand. A market-led output became necessary no matter in quantity or quality. Hence, the Fordist production method that only provides huge quantity of undiversified goods was suggested to be over and forced to transform to a totally different production method, the Post-Fordism. Post-Fordism, a phrase "popularised by Michael Piore and Charles Sabel in The Second Industrial Divide (1984), describes a new era of capitalist economic production in which flexibility and innovation are maximized in order to meet market demands for diverse, customized products." ...read more.


described in his book, Working Lives in Catering: "Much of catering is still run along traditional lines; but rationalizing trends are evident everywhere. Sophisticated technology, standardized products, fragmented and routinized production, careful planning are dramatically changing the appearance of eating and drinking places. Frozen food processed in food factories, which at times resemble assembly lines and at times petro-chemical refineries, finds its way not only on fast-food trays, but also in school dining-rooms and hospital wards as well as in haute-cuisine restaurants. Even the jargon begins to sound like that of industrial production - cooks re-classified as material handlers, waiter as interface workers, others as crew-members or thawers-outers." Source: Gabriel (1988: 8) Gabriel had observed and witnessed the survival of Fordism in catering industry, and indicated that even works in places such as restaurant had been re-classified into different names, yet they still retained their Fordist characters. Through critically accessing both Fordism and Post-Fordism we notice that the biggest difference is flexibility. As we have discussed earlier that work specialization does increase productivity to a great extent, yet it also alienates worker form others. On the other hand, Fordism is inflexible with changes in economic conditions and consumer preferences. Post-Fordism has the flexibility to adapt changing environments, such as changes in technology, products, jobs and contracts. However, although Post-Fordism seems so much superior to Fordism, some industries today still continuously practicing Fordism. Both of them have their own strengths in different ways. ...read more.

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