The Origins of Fordism: The Introduction of Mass Production and the Five-Dollar Wage

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The introduction of moving assembly and the five-dollar wage at the Ford Motor Company are examined to demonstrate that these were not, as is generally claimed, separate responses to two problems — the inability to meet demand and labor turnover — confronting the company at the time. By tracing changes in the organization of production and productivity at Ford, I show that labor turnover and the inability to meet demand were interrelated; the fundamental solution to both was mass production, and the five-dollar wage policy was implemented to prevent a massive increase in labor turnover resulting from mass production. The final section examines the distinctive features of Fordism as a strategy for labor control, as well as the new problems of labor control created by Fordism. © 1991, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

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Critical Sociology