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Color Line and the Assembly LineManaging Race in the Ford Empire$
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Elizabeth D. Esch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285378

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285378.001.0001

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“Work in the Factory Itself ”

“Work in the Factory Itself ”

Fordism, South Africanism, and Poor White Reform

(p.149) Five “Work in the Factory Itself ”
Color Line and the Assembly Line

Elizabeth D. Esch

University of California Press

This chapter examines how the Poor White Investigation of the Carnegie Corporation provided a social-scientific rationale for the racial segregation of industrial work with which Ford, who would become one of the most powerful multinational employers in South Africa, complied. Targeted during the antiapartheid movement to divest, the roots of Ford’s relationship with this racist state are in the 1920s and 1930s, built on Ford’s reputation for racial paternalism and so-called progressivism in the United States. In South Africa, an interest in Ford’s processes of mass production and mass consumption were both mobilized in projects of racial improvement, though the Carnegie report specifically endorsed the idea of work in the factory as the most effective route to the racial improvement and discipline of so-called poor whites, recommending “white managerialist” efforts to address the “problem of poor whites.”

Keywords:   racial segregation, white supremacy, poor whites, paternalism, racial improvement, South Africa

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