Fordism and Post-Fordism
One of the most recent concerns of economically oriented Marxists is the issue of whether we have witnessed, or are witnessing, a transition from "Fordism" to "postFordism" (Amin, 1994; Kiely, 1998). This concern is related to the broader issue of whether we have undergone a transition from a modern to a postmodern society (Gartman, 1998). We will discuss this larger issue in general (Chapter 13), as well as the way in which it is addressed by contemporary Marxian theorists (later in this chapter). In general, Fordism is associated with the modern era, while post-Fordism is linked to the more recent, postmodern epoch. (The Marxian interest in Fordism is not new; Gramsci [1971] published an essay on it in 1931.)
  Fordism, of course, refers to the ideas, principles, and systems spawned by Henry Ford. Ford generally is credited with the development of the modern mass-production system, primarily through the creation of the automobile assembly line. The following characteristics may be associated with Fordism:
      • The mass production of homogeneous products.
      • The use of inflexible technologies such as the assembly line.
      • The adoption of standardized work routines (Taylorism).
      • Increases in productivity derived from "economies of scale as well as the deskilling, intensification and homogenization of labor" (Clarke, 1990:73).
      • The resulting rise of the mass worker and bureaucratized unions.
      • The negotiation by unions of uniform wages tied to increases in profits and productivity.
      • The growth of a market for the homogenized products of mass-production industries and the resulting homogenization of consumption patterns.
      • A rise in wages, caused by unionization, leading to a growing demand for the increasing supply of mass-produced products.
      • A market for products that is governed by Keynesian macroeconomic policies and a market for labor that is handled by collective...