Flexible Production, Rigid Jobs: Lessons from the Clothing Industry
AbstractContextualized in the debate on the nature of post-Fordism, this study looks at changes in work organization that accompany firm attempts to increase their competitive position. It argues that changes in the technical and social relations of production in a labor intensive industry simply amount to labor intensification. Firms achieve productivity and quality improvements plus manufacturing flexibility by using new technology to deskill or replace skilled workers and by reconfiguring work to maximize work effort by semiskilled workers. These technological changes and work reorganization permit manufacturing flexibility but in ways that resemble modifications of Fordism rather than a new production paradigm.