Reworking postfordism: Labor process versus employment relations

2017-11-27T09:43:15Z (GMT) by Matt Vidal
The Fordism/postfordism framework has been widely used, but also heavily criticized, in the social sciences. I outline the central points of debate over the use of this framework for analysis of work organization, including the range of models offered as successors to Fordism. I then suggest that, while some criticisms of the concept of postfordism have highlighted important problems and issues, the Fordist/postfordist framework can be elaborated as an analytically coherent, theoretically illuminating approach to the historical, institutional, and comparative analysis of work and employment. Although researchers appear to be using the concept of postfordism increasingly less frequently over the last decade, I argue that it provides a unifying framework within which to analyze work and employment relations in the current phase of capitalism, which is characterized by an apparent variety of new organizational forms within a broader context of increasing disconnectedness of economic institutions. Lean production has become established as the predominant postfordist labor process, widespread in manufacturing but also increasingly being implemented in services. However, this must be distinguished from a broader set of changes in employment relations. © 2011 The Author. Sociology Compass © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.