New production concepts, new production geographies? Reflections on changes in the automobile industry

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The burgeoning crisis of capitalist production from the middle of the 1970s helped stimulate a debate as to the existence and character of an emergent crisis of Fordism, both in the broader sense of a Fordism as a macro-scale model of development and in the narrower sense of a particular form of organization of industrial production. One part of this debate came to focus upon alternative methods of organizing production as companies experimented with new strategies and geographies of mass production. Of particular significance was the challenge posed to European and North American producers by the growing importance of Japanese companies and associated 'just-in-time' and lean production methods. This paper examines the resultant restructuring of automobile production, paying particular attention to the regulatory regimes within which production takes place; the social relations of production, both between capital and labour and between capitals; technologies of production; geographies of production; and the local and regional development implications of these changes.

Keywords: Europe; Fordism; automobile industry; geographies of production; lean production; mass production

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1994

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