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Fordism and How Mass Production Changed the World

It is an indisputable fact that mass production has changed the world. It has existed for thousands of years, in some form or another. According to the New Statesmen, there were over 13000 weavers in Ur, ancient Mesopotamia’s main city. Weavers hired workers and provided them with tools and materials. Technically speaking, this is mass production. However, what would light the spark for the sheer scale of mass-produced goods and items is the Industrial Revolution. Professor, Joshua B. Freeman, author of Behemoth: The Making of the Factory and the Modern World, says, “It was a tremendous transformation of people’s lives.” 

Freeman likens the first “behemoths” – big factories – to churches. He uses the neat symbolism of bells, which in the absence of clocks, signaled the beginning and end of a shift. In the mid-19th century, factory power in the United States took over from the United Kingdom and became the dominant power in the Industrial Revolution. This is personified better than anyone in Henry Ford. 

Fordism

Fordism has two definitions. Strictly speaking, it pertains to Henry Ford and the method of mass production made popular and efficient by the Ford Motor Company in the 1920s. In a wider sense, it has been used as a byword for capitalism and post-World War 1 recovery. The image that comes to mind when talking about early mass production is an assembly line; a mixture of machinery and laborers combining to assemble the Model T. In order to facilitate rapid economic growth, mass production goes hand in hand with mass consumption. 

The Advantages of Mass Production

  • Mass production, by its very nature, means there are more products available and in greater quantity. The ability to mass-produce their items allowed manufacturers to cut costs. For any business – from an e-commerce seller to Amazon – cutting costs is a cornerstone of success. 
  • The speed at which products can be made and assembled is a huge advantage of mass production. The Apple iPhone is a good example of this. The iPhone is one of the most popular phones in the world. There are approximately four hundred steps in the manufacturing process of an iPhone, and yet it is possible for up to half a million units to be made and assembled in the space of a single day. This is thanks to mass production techniques and technological advances and would not be possible without them. The pace of production allows for quicker distribution, increasing availability, and allows for a much larger number of sales. 
  • Mass production does not equate to a poorly made product. Thanks to the uniformity of mass production techniques, a higher standard of quality is easier to maintain. Not to denigrate handmade products, but there is the potential for variability in the quality of each item. Technological advances in assembly lines mean that a good standard of product is all but assured. Of course, this may not be the case with every company and business, but reliable suppliers will buy from reliable manufacturers, such as, for example, the bulk supplier of sunglasses, Olympic Eyewear out of Salt Lake City, Utah. 
  • With lower costs comes wider availability for people of all economic statuses. Items that are considered essential in the modern world, such as shoes, clothes, and mobile phones, are at their most affordable. Highly desirable items, such as designer sunglasses, have decreased in price while maintaining a level of quality. The cost-effective methods of mass production mean businesses can minimize overheads without sacrificing the quality of the product. Factoring in a lower error percentage with more automated production also means higher quality on average.

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