GEOG 122 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society, Dearborn, Michigan

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28 Jan 2017
Lecture 9 - How We Got Here from the North: a Story in Three Acts
Act 1: The Golden Age of Fordism
Ford’s form of production became the economic blueprint for post-war high-income
countries in W./N. Europe and N. America
Linked to a particular form of government: the Welfare State or the Keynesian Welfare
Produced unparalleled wealth for Northern countries (late 1940s - late 1970s)
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - 2006), The Affluent Society (1958)
Harold Macmillan, British PM, 1957 - 1963, “You never had it so good; timing, my
dear boy, timing.”
How did Fordism Work?
Rouge River factory, Dearborn, MI (3kms long, 1km wide, 81000 workers)
Idea came from the “disassembly” process Ford observed at a MI meat packing plant
Assembly-line mass production (conveyor belt)
Workers stayed in place, work came to them
Workers “nothing more or less than a robot” (Subject to Taylorist labour control)
Producing Goods
Mass production requires mass consumption in order to be sustained
Fordist wage: “The payment of $5 a day for an eight-hour day was one of the
most profitable moves we ever made.” - Henry Ford
The Welfare State in combination with Keynesian economics ensured everyone
had income to consume sufficiently
Government intervention: old age pension, unpaid insurance etc
Afford money and give the potential for consumption
Geography of Fordism
In North America associated with the manufacturing belt stretching from the NE
seaboard to upper mid-west, with Canadian spur
In W. Europe, manufacturing belt was a spine connecting N. England and Midlands, N.
France, Belgium, Netherlands, down the Ruhr in Germany, N. Italy.
Act II: The Fall - Deindustrialisation, and Industrial Restructuring
Golden age of Fordism tarnishes from the 1970s
General economic crisis
High unemployment (over 20%)
High inflation (over 20%)
High interest rates (17 - 8 %)
Declining industrial investments
UK loses 2.5 m manufacturing jobs (1973 - 1989)
US manufacturing belt loses 16 m jobs (becomes the “Rust Belt”)
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