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Henry Ford and Capitalism

How did Henry Ford fundamentally change the nature of American capitalism in the 1920s and how did he respond to the onset of the Great Depression

During the industrialization period of between 1865 and 1920, America experienced a tremendous economic growth making it the principal industrial capitalist country, globally. However, two major barriers arose as a result of capitalism whereby the immense competition and rivalry among the industries developed. Secondly, the escalating number of working class individuals persistently demanded to have a share of the industrial production benefits. During the onset of the great revolution, it was vital to maintain the worker’s wages high in order to allow them to purchase the industrial products present in the American market.

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Henry Ford, an automobile producer pioneered the economic ideology that advocated for firms to grant their employees high wages that would enable them to purchase the firm’s produce such as automobiles. Consequently, employers can therefore selectively single out the most productive employees resulting in high corporate affluence and profits (Backer 1). Henry Ford’s employees were the most highly paid workers globally. As a result, he was successful in mass production of his Model T automobiles which sold over million pieces due to their low prices.     

“Fordism,” is a phrase coined in describing the tremendous success of Henry Ford in improving mass production methodologies in the automobile industry ((Backer 1). Fordism was adopted by other automobile manufactures as industrialists perceived mass production as scientific revolution. The ideology was regarded to as the “second” Industrial Revolution   since the   mass production system proved to be of great success. Therefore, Henry Ford can be said to have highly contributed to the deficient technological fix by tremendously contributing to the Efficiency Movement present during the American Progressive Era (Backer, 1). During the onset of the great depression, the American national interest was to uphold the high employee wages hoping that Fordism would enhance in alleviating the depression.

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