TU Berlin

Center for Metropolitan StudiesStefan Höhne

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Stefan Höhne: "Efficiency in Movement. Fordist Ideologies in Contemporary Urban Transit"

Post-fordism (as well as postmodernism) is widely used as a concept for diagnosing a massive paradigmatic change in the organization of city cultures as well as economic production and consumption since the 1970s. But despite being used as a term, marking a distinctive historical era or epoch, it is also often applied as an analytical and descriptive concept for various social-economic phenomena.

However, taking a closer look into the relations of subjects and infrastructures of transit, this presentation argues that the now dominant concept of the Post-fordist city, claiming a substantial change in urbanity, neglects a critical part of everyday practices in urban settings. Furthermore, the usage of post-Fordism as a macro concept tends to blur differences and downplays other still crucial techniques of spatial organization and control.

In contrast to that, I will point out that especially in urban transit a vital increase of Fordist strategies can be witnessed in the last decades - incorporating and enforcing ideologies of mass consumption and regulation. As a consumer of these infrastructures, the passenger is constituted through Fordist administrative techniques and spatial codes of the city such as the standardization of the body, transit interior and sign systems.

Drawing upon these examples, the overall purpose of this paper will be to show the limits of periodizing Post Fordism, and instead suggests its use as an analytical concept.

About the Author

Stefan Hoehne (b. 1979) studied cultural studies, philosophy and sociology in Leipzig, Berlin and Copenhagen. Since the beginning of 2008 he is a DFG-fellow at the Center for Metropolitan Studies Berlin - New York. In his Ph.D. project he analyses the urban passenger as a cultural archetype in the 20th century. He is also a cultural activist involved in various projects in the fields of film, scientific dissemination and artistic production.

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