Has a new system of production and consumption replaced Fordism?
Named after American industrialist Henry Ford, Fordism is essentially a modern socio-economic system designed on the bases of industrial mass production in the 20th century. There are many aspects of Fordism in terms of its social and economic organisation, such as the relation to production line techniques, the nature and pattern of consumption, and overall state regulation. This essay will firstly outline the three major characteristics of Fordism; the standardisation of goods produced, the synchronisation of assembly line workers, and the concept of how higher waged workers are able to afford the goods they produce. Moreover, the 21st century patterns of production,
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“Consumers embody a simple logic, the right to choose.” (Gabriel & Lang, 2008). This is a very drastic change from the Fordism era, as products and services are now fragmented into highly individualised, niche markets. During Fordism, mass-produced goods became extremely accessible and virtually universal. As a result, middle to high-classed consumers often strive to individualise themselves from such convention and common, standardised goods. Today, instead of all having to purchase the same style of Ford T model cars, consumers now have vast options ranging from luxury brands (Rolls Royce, BMW) to practical brands (Toyota, Honda), different hybrid functionalities, speed adjustments, convertible characteristics, and so on. As for service sectors, there are now both private and public options of schooling, health provision and tourism, as opposed to limited choices in the Fordism era. It is apparent that consumer markets are becoming more demanding and volatile, as product uniqueness recycles more rapidly. This allows for expressions of individuality and taste to emerge among consumers, however the key to survival for many industries is the ability to respond immediately to changes in market demand (Gabriel & Lang, 2008).
Another feature regarding the transition from Fordism to Post-Fordism is the casualization of jobs. In the Fordism era, many workers only possessed one or two jobs in their entire career