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How did the rise of mass production transform the role of the United States in the international political economy?

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  1. Introduction
  2. America's dominant economic and military force
  3. Prior to World War II
  4. Following the Second World War
  5. Conclusion

The early twentieth century saw one of the most dramatic shifts of power noted in the studies of international political economy. Preceding and throughout the Great Wars, the United States of America underwent such dramatic and influential changes in its domestic industries that it not only transformed the role it played in the global economy, but modernized global economics as a whole. Furthermore, with help from mass production methods and mass consumption needs, America instilled itself as one of the major hegemonic actors on the globe ? if not the foremost. Throughout this essay, I will demonstrate that the rise of America's relative economic and military superiority can be linked to its use of, and increase in, mass production methods and creation of mass consumption needs. In order to achieve this, I will firstly define the term: mass production, and how it is understood within the discipline of international relations and its associated schools of thought. Next, I will describe the impact mass production methods had on America socially and how it affected America's economic structures domestically. Lastly, before concluding, I will explain how this in turn led to military dominance during pre-World War II and further economic dominance post-war. In conclusion, I will argue that through the use of mass production, the United States of America, almost inadvertently, gained international economic and military dominance ? which even today effects the business practices of local and multinational companies across the globe and the international political economy as a whole.

Dertouzos describes mass production as the "process of replacing human tasks by machine functions"(Dertouzos, 1979, p. 38). However, most academics studying the initiatives of Henry Ford and other early American industrialists would argue that the ideas of mass productions transcend aide memoirs of the work place. Mass production in America is better described as the foundation of a new industrial revolution (Beninger, 1986). With its origins lying within American factories, it was instilled using practices of more "rationalized control of industrial production" (Beninger, 1986, p. 234). Namely, the use of highly specialized machinery and simplified processes to diminish reliance on highly skilled workers and the allowance for greater output in much tighter timescales. These new practices of the workplace were illuminated by the initiatives of Henry Ford in his factories and the writings of Fredirick Taylor. In essence, their goal, although not cohesively, was to produce the highest output in the quickest timeframe and at the lowest cost. Throughout the course of the Twentieth Century (and arguably still into the Twenty-first Century), these practices dramatically changed the global political economy, as I will explain in this essay.

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