What is Fordism?

digital fordism graphic

In present-day economic theory Fordism refers to a way of economic  life developed around the mass production of consumer goods, using assembly-line techniques.  A few large companies came to dominate the key sectors of the economy, they dictated the market, and dictated what consumers would be offered.  In return, they expected long-term loyalty from their workers, which they were prepared to earn by paying high wages, providing benefits and respecting labour unions.

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Life under Fordism was rather standardised.  The factories prefered to turn out products which changed little from year to year in the fundamentals, although they might be styled differently.  Conformity was expected of consumers too.  The Fordist city was a city of tract suburbs, of mass-produced car-oriented housing inhabited by mom-and-pop nuclear families consuming the goods marketed by TV.  Wage-earning, "middle class" and urban.  The American middle class saw itself as prosperous, white and heterosexual.

picture: 1950s general electric ad: Now I cook by pushing buttons!

The classic environment of Fordism: the post-1945 North American suburb.  Full of those wonderful, wonderful billboards.

It was an era of big government, of big (but not quite global) corporations.

The US economy was (until 1970) able to run the post-1945 world economy.

the 1956 Belvedere


Fordism and the transition to flexible accumulation click here

Fordism vs Post Fordism click here