Fordism: Mass Production and Total Control Response

The most interesting aspects of the reading as applied to architecture would tend to be thought of as examinations spatial conditions of the three topics, the factory floor, the supply chain and the surveillance of workers in and outside of work. Aspirations for profit derived from a mass consumer forced people into small spaces making them highly regulated by an overarching plan.  This seemed to work for Ford throughout modernity, as he was able to create and then produce for a mass consumer base.  Essentially these spatial organizations found at Highland Park and River Rouge were products of the main motifs of modernity.  If modernity is characterized by machine production for mass audiences, post-modernity is characterized by mass customization and an equally customized, more massive audience.  Architecture’s patrons rather than kingdoms and governments found prior to the industrial revolution are now typically wealthy multinational corporations.  Because the economy has changed in 100 years it is important to understand architectures role in contemporary production in order to sustain patronage from corporations. Today we are able to say that part of Ford’s success came from the ubiquitous and thoughtfully enacted circulation of physical parts based on repetitive architectural and spatial elements.  In a world which demands a less standardized product in order to stand out in the crowd businesses and therefore architecture needs to change to reflect this. 

Furthermore, products are becoming less tangible and less reliant on large material supplies as software and small devices like cell phones make up a larger portion of income expenditure.  This has drastic implications for the role of the architect as supply chains and machine operations are being replaced by less physical operations of business and economic structures.

Can we liken Steve Jobs to Ford as symbolic examples of their consumer cultures? Will we study apple stores in the same way we study factory floors key movers of architecture in our time?

How does today’s consumer differ from that of Ford’s consumer?

In what ways has government intervention changed the way businesses operate and treat their workforce and has that prevented the perpetuation of Fordism to today?


About mhgoblue

Architecture Undergrad University of Michigan

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