What is a critical analysis of Henry Ford and Field and Factory: An Analysis of the Ford Sponsored Village Industries - Experiment in Michigan, 1918-1941 by John R. Mullin?

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A critical analysis of a scholarly work will include the reader’s informed opinion of the author’s goals and their relative success in achieving them. An analysis, therefore, must do more than just summarize the findings presented in the work. In writing about the Village Industries that Henry Ford created in the first half of the 20th century, Mullin stresses the importance of Ford’s experimental project in terms of three aspects of the “decentralization of industry during this period.” He comments on the importance of the comprehensiveness of the implementation, the location in rural areas, and the fact that it was one of the few such projects that was “totally financed by the private sector.” An analysis of Mullin’s success, therefore, should address the extent to which he demonstrates the significance of all three terms. The relevant analysis will include both the amount and quality of evidence that Mullin has amassed to support his ideas, and the degree to which he uses that evidence effectively.

One might begin an analytical essay with the first point, that of comprehensiveness. Mullin points out that Ford was concerned with the relationship between urban and rural settings, and worried about the productivity of his workers. The small plants would be in farming areas, and would employ existing residents. To keep costs down, location near rivers was crucial for use of hydropower. The products of the new factories would exclusively be used in the nearby Ford Motor Company plants.

Mullin points out a number of ways in which the project’s implementation, over the 25 years it was developed, differed from Ford’s initial vision. One change was the varying size of the plants, as they initially moved toward increasing size. This trajectory was modified throughout the 1930s. In addition, some of the plants were dedicated to individual, specific purposes, such as soybean processing. The varying requirements of different towns had to be accommodated, so Ford could not unilaterally impose his vision in every community. Mullin states: “It is clear that the principles developed by Ford were, on the whole, implemented.” An analytical essay might focus on the phrase “on the whole”: does this qualification support or undermine Mullin’s claim of comprehensive implementation?

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