Fordism Before Fordism Was Cool

The Industrial Revolution was an important step for many countries during the late 18th century to 19th century, as it changed the way products were manufactured to what is now seen today.  In Adam Smith’s first chapter of, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the division of labor is seen as a necessity for maximizing the efficiency of creating manufactured goods.  The way Smith describes the importance of the division of labor relates back to Hoffmann in, “European Modernity and Soviet Socialism”, as both emphasize the categorization of the branches of labor and making humans more efficient during their livelihood.  The division of labor sets apart the most powerful countries from rest of the world.  Smith argues that, “In agriculture, the labour of the rich country is not always much more productive than that of the poor…”1 ,in his attempt to show that the taste and price of agricultural goods will never diverge too much between countries.  However, countries that are industrialized will be able to sell finished goods of higher quality and lower cost to their consumers.  This in return leads to a society with a higher standard of living, with more people being able to afford various finished products.  

Smith outlines three circumstances necessary for the division of labor to be effective in a state.  Dexterity relates to the time in which one can complete his job in.  If the job becomes more simple, then the worker will be able to complete this job at a faster rate.  The time between each process is the next important part of this outline.  If the time between each process is reduced, there will be more energy being spent on the development of the product rather than the transport.  Lastly, the development of machinery helps increase the overall speed of creating goods.  All three of these concepts are seen to be necessary to build an industrialized society.    

What group of people is this being written for?

Does Smith miss any points necessary for an industrialized society?

  1. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith []

One thought on “Fordism Before Fordism Was Cool

  1. First of all I really enjoyed your title. I thought it was clever and funny. Most people (including myself) learned about how Ford created the assembly line and revolutionized business. It’s interesting to see Adam Smith talk about specialization almost 120 years before Ford implemented it. Also, I do believe that Smith missed a point regarding an industrialized society. An industrialized society requires a nation that is willing to support industrialization with laws and other practices. Without incentives to industrialize from a government, industrialization won’t be a speedy process.

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