Although the concept of Fordism has been used to help explain a wide range of phenomena in Australian post-war political economy, there have been few attempts to assess its utility within the field of housing provision. This paper is a preliminary attempt to 'test' the Fordist model. It distinguishes between two uses of the concept: a narrow 'productivist' approach which focuses on the 'backwardness'of the housing industry and a broader 'societal' approach which focuses on the interrelationship between dominant production techniques, patterns of mass consumption, and urban form. The first section examines the narrow use of Fordism and argues that it has only limited practical and analytic value for explaining developments within the Australian housing industry. However, the second section of the paper suggests that the broader use of the concept—derived from the regulation school of political economy—is useful for explaining the coincidence between suburbanisation, mass consumption and mass production during the golden era of Fordism after the Second World War.
Urban Research Program, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU 1995