Liam Gillick, The Journal of the Association of Art Historians

Art History Volume 36, Issue 1, pages 180–205, February 2013

Article first published online: 10 December 2012

The view constructed by the factory after it stopped producing cars (detail)


Liam Gillick

Unlike ‘postmodernism’, the term ‘post-Fordism’ is today in rude health, its currency stronger than ever in the fields of social and cultural criticism. At its broadest,it denotes the set of increasingly global socioeconomic conditions that first emerged with the crisis of Fordist patterns of standardized mass production and consumption from the early 1970s onwards. Spearheaded by managerial, technological and financial innovations in industrialized countries; spurred by the information and communication revolutions of the last three decades; and stabilized by the hegemony of neoliberal economic and social policy; post-Fordism imbricates the economic, the social, the political and the cultural. Perhaps most influentially, and though he resists the term itself, David Harvey has emphasized flexibility as the key attribute of the post-Fordist regime of accumulation, operative at the ‘micro’ level of labour processes in the factory and office, the ‘macro’ levels of corporate strategy and labour supply management, and at the level of highly differentiated and constantly changing patterns of consumption. Flexibility is a defining feature of post-Fordist economies, but its logic extends beyond the purely economic, and opens onto other aspects of contemporary experience. The result is a widespread cultural logic of dislocation and disruption…