The term Fordism was originally invoked by early-20th-century trade union activists to describe the brutal system of machine-paced production methods deployed in automobile plants owned by Henry Ford. Ford's method radically transformed the conditions and rhythm of work on the shop floor. In the 1930s, Fordism was used by the Italian Marxist political theorist Antonio Gramsci to denote the peculiarly American form of modern production prefiguring a new stage of industrial capitalism. For late-20th-century social theorists, the system of production at Ford Motor Company in Michigan, first at the Highland Park plant in the 1910s and then at the massive River Rouge factory beginning in the late 1920s, was often used as the exemplary case of classic Fordism.

A hallmark of classic Fordist production is ...

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