Briefly describe the concepts of division of labor and the assembly line. Putting yourself in place of a worker at the Ford Motor Company when these practices were introduced, discuss the effect...

Briefly describe the concepts of division of labor and the assembly line. Putting yourself in place of a worker at the Ford Motor Company when these practices were introduced, discuss the effect these changes in the workplace have on you as a worker.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Given how the nature of this writing assignment is an individualized one, I think you are going to have to shoulder much of the heavy lifting on your own. You can get some ideas here, and, hopefully, this will initiate the thought process within your own mind to see how this approach can be written.

I think that the force of the prompt exists in the "before Ford" and "after Ford" dynamic.  Prior to Ford's division of labor in the assembly line, master craftsmen were required to assemble an automobile.  Individuals who were skilled in the art of assembly and understanding the nuances of an automobile were required. It stands to reason that the individual who came to work on the first day of the assembly line approach to Ford's division of labor was probably taken aback with the entire approach.  The master craftsman who had to experience Ford's division of labor would find it difficult to make the transition. Prior to the division of labor in the assembly line, the person who assembled the automobile had to be skilled and quite learned in the field.  They spent years of study, and presumably had a love or passion towards it.  Their shock at seeing how unskilled workers could put together an automobile simply by doing their part in isolation and moving it on to another person who would complete their function would have to be noted.  There is a detached approach to how the automobile is now being made.  I think that part of your writing should focus on this shift between "then" and "now."

Expanding off of this might be an imminent criticism of the approach.  There is little in way of love or individually differentiated products in the Ford method. A worker who has arrived to the factory to see the new method of division of labor through the assembly line would have to comment on how the process is without a sense of "soul" to it.  There is simply a line of mass produced automobiles that are fit for mass consumption.  I think that the worker who straddles both worlds of the skilled craftsman in a world of unskilled cogs would comment about this lack of personalization in the process of assembly.

At the same time, I think that your writing might also feature a note of fear or perhaps even resentment.  With the advent of assembly lines and approaches to labor that are divided, the skilled craftsman is no longer needed.  Ford's approach took away the need for the skilled craftsman's years of erudition and experience in terms of producing automobiles. The person who has studied as an apprentice of sorts and engaged in either theoretical or actual experience in building automobiles no longer has primacy placed upon them.  In the end, Ford's approach was economically viable, but it disenfranchised the skilled worker.  I think that writing about how the life of the skilled worker was fundamentally shifted and transformed in a negative manner with the advent of Ford's approach would capture a particular experience that might make for some very compelling thought.

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