Technology and Capital in the Age of Lean Production

A Marxian Critique of the "New Economy"

By Tony Smith

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Radical Social and Political Theory
Paperback : 9780791446003, 211 pages, August 2000
Hardcover : 9780791445990, 211 pages, August 2000

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Table of contents


1. From Fordism to Lean Production

2. Lean Production and the Capital/Wage Labor Relation (i): The Deskilling Thesis

3. Lean Production and the Capital/Wage Labor Relation (ii): Structural Coercion, Exploitation, and Real Subsumption

4. The Capital/Consumer Relation in Lean Production

5. Intercapital Relations in Lean Production

6. Globalization and the "New Economy"

7. Socialism, an Alternative to Lean Production?

Selected Bibliography

The first defense of Marxian political economy against the common interest claims of "lean production. "


This book illustrates the continued value of Marxism as a method for analyzing contemporary capitalism, despite the new Post-Fordist variant termed "lean production" that is spreading the globe. Characterized by knowledge work, lean production also includes the mass customization of commodities to consumer desires, and the close cooperation of firms within extended networks of production and distribution. Its proponents argue that it can unite companies, workers, and consumers in the harmonious pursuit of common interests, thereby making the Marxian perspective hopelessly outdated. However, this book is the first to defend Marxian political economy against the claims made by lean production advocates.

Tony Smith is Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Iowa State University. He is the author of three other books published by the SUNY Press, The Logic of Marx's Capital: Replies to Hegelian Criticisms, The Role of Ethics in Social Theory, and Dialectical Social Theory and Its Critics: From Hegel to Analytical Marxism and Postmodernism.


"…an insightful critique of current economic developments. " β€” CHOICE

"A clear and novel analysis of present-day lean production, and of the ideology attached to it, using a simple set of conceptual tools from the Marxian tradition. Professor Smith's study is both an excellent introduction to Marxian theory and a notable entry in the debate concerning present-day economic trends, trends that affect the lives of practically every person alive. " β€” David Laibman, Brooklyn College

"Given the complexity of the topic this book is marvelously clear and easy to follow. " β€” Robert J. S. Ross, Clark University