University of Edinburgh

Early Diagnosis: Supporting Parents to Support their Child

Presented on Thursday 9 November 2006

The Historical Context of Choice

Brian Shannan

"Culture is to the organisation what personality is to the individual – a hidden yet unifying theme that provides meaning, direction and mobilisation" (Kilmann, 1984)

"Society is founded upon dichotomy, disagreement and contradiction" (Bonefeld, 1992)

Fordism – The Post-War Years

Henry Ford revolutionised production based on four principles

  • Standardisation
  • Mass production
  • Scientific management
  • Flow line assembly

Planning was done by specialists, rulebooks and guidelines

  • Central organisation
  • Standard products

The structures and culture of Fordism was embedded within society

  • State provided housing
  • Limited choice in schooling and hospitals
  • Professionals were the experts
  • Standard holiday destinations
  • Restricted media choices

The Move to Post-Fordism

  • 1970s/1980s the period of transition and change
  • New technology an important component
  • Transformation was not in manufacturing but retailing
  • An anthropology of consumption to target segments of society
  • A move from mass production to mass consumption


  • Society has a culture of consumption
  • Individualism
  • Choice
  • Diversity
  • Decentralisation
  • Mass media

Implications for Deaf Education

  • Many state bodies are ‘institutionally Fordist’
  • People are consumers/customers
  • Choice
  • Quality services tailored to meet individual need
  • Mass media gives access to massive amounts of information