An American Idea: Fordism
Fordism, engineered assembly line production that stresses the integration of man and machine for the purpose of increased efficiency of production, stands out as one of America’s greatest ideas.
Fordism has a few different aspects, the first being assembly line production. This production divided up the work into smaller and smaller tasks, and wed the individual worker to the machine.
Workers no longer created one entire good on their own, or moved to different parts of the factory to complete a particular good. Assembly lines brought the goods to the workers, and allowed them to stay in one spot and aid in the production of the good itself. This increased efficiency of production, as the cost of producing the good itself fell.
Assembly line production came with increased wages. The increased wages were seen as a return to working harder. It was said that Ford believed that his workers should be able to afford the cars that they themselves were producing. Whether Ford was genuinely concerned with his workers, or whether this was an attempt to control the workforce, is up for debate.
With greater efficiency of production, and higher wages, Fordism spurred efficiency, growth, and demand in the economy. Thus, the big idea was the coupling of mass production and mass consumption to promote economic growth and rising standards of living.