Space and Capital

Taylorism and Scientific Management

Taylor was concerned with the efficient organization of space and action. This was chiefly directed at industrial production, but also was applied in other areas. It is the beginning of the "efficiency expert".




Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and Time & Motion Studies

Lillian and Frank Gilbreth were made famous by Cheaper By The Dozen, a book made into a movie. They had 12 children, and were concerned with domestic efficiency.



Fordism and the Birth of the Assembly Line

Henry Ford was the person who introduced the modern factory to America. His factories had assembly lines, which allowed the production of goods by the harnessing of space in the name of efficiency. He took the lessons learned from Taylor, and extended them. Ford made mass production possible.

The imperative of efficiency meant that consumer objects had to be designed in a particular way:

1. They must have interchangeable parts, and must be assemble-able in a standardized manner.


2. Measurements and tolerances must be very tight, so that everything fits properly.


3. They must be able to be assembled by different people with relatively low skill levels. Ultimately, these people become operators of machines rather than producers of goods - the machines have the skill, the workers do not. These people work at assembly lines, and work in repetitive ways.


4. This organization can be used in management as well. Alfred P. Sloan took over Ford in the 1920's, and changed the management structure to one in which there were divisions, all of which were organized from the top by a few people. These people did not have to know the details of operations - this was the job of divisional managers. If a division did not perform, the manager was fired and a new one brought in.


What are the socio-spatial results of Fordism in society?

Fordism vs. Post-Fordism



How is this about space? Work is spatialized under this logic. Space is controlled for maximum efficiency and production. There is no place, in the sense of any differentiation that speaks of human individuality. Space is rationally structured for a final product.


Many writers talk now about a "post-Fordist" age, and resulting social organization. For example, David Harvey discusses the post-Fordist city (notes from
http://geog.queensu.ca/Holmes/332pomonotes.pdf)


a. The exploitation of highly differentiated markets by enticing middle and high income groups into accumulating status-enhancing luxury goods through conspicuous consumption - the socalled acquisition of symbolic or cultural capital. The effect is not only to foster the spatial and social segregation within cities of the affluent from others unable to acquire symbolic capital but also leads to the acquisition of greater power in urban politics.


b. What Harvey calls the mobilization of spectacle - the enormous proliferation of shopping and leisure experiences, shopping complexes, casinos, marinas, Chinatowns, Skydomes etc as a means of boosting mass consumerism. This leads to a further division between those who can and cannot take part and redirects urban policy and political priorities away from investment in production and from meeting social needs (for example, in Toronto the Bread not Circuses debate around TO’s Olympic bid or the building of a new opera house).


c. The epidemic rise in poverty and informal economies (including drug trafficking and prostitution) associated with the postfordist deindustrialization and the emergence of a new flexibly organized economy. A process which has created a vast underclass of low income and no-income communities abandoned by welfare programs and isolated from areas of the city “embellished” for the well-off. This aspect of contemporary urban life with its stark cultural outcomes related to crime, poverty, degradation, dehumanisation and isolation is conspicuously absent from postmodern accounts of city life which focus on the new consumerism and on urban aesthetics.