Elitism and Institutional Power – Henry Ford
Power in America has been an ongoing topic of discussion for many centuries now. The ability to decide, persuade and make changes to public policies are examples of how great power is exercised. According to Thomas Dye, Professor of Political Science at Florida State University, “a few thousand individuals out of 281 million Americans decide about war and peace, wages and prices, consumption and investment, employment and production, law and justice, taxes and benefits, education and learning, health and welfare, advertising and communication, life and leisure.” These few individuals that make these decisions are considered the “elites” of society because of the possession of authority elites have over large and powerful institutions, which directly impacts the lives of all Americans.
To illustrate, let’s examine one of the most memorable and influential elite in American history – Henry Ford. The impact that Ford had on American history was astronomical because of the idea that he had toward the “mass production” of automobiles. By implementing the mass production of automobiles, Ford created a new model for the automobile industry, which affected not only public policies, but in parallel, stimulated the American economy for the good of humankind. Therefore, in an effort to further understand the affects of elitism and institutional power, society should understand the basis of Ford’s power, where that power was derived from, and the strategies used by Ford to maintain his status and influence over public policies with the use of power and institutions.
Just to ensure that everyone is on the same page, let me give you a quick background on this elite American figure. Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 to William and Mary Ford. He was the eldest of the six children growing up on a prosperous farm in Dearborn, Michigan. Although Ford helped out occasionally with the family business, he did not enjoy farm work at all. Instead, Ford’s passion rested in mechanical things, and at an early age, he showed tremendous interest in anything that was mechanical.
In 1879, at the age of 16, Ford moved to Detroit to pursue an apprenticeship as a “machinist.” Over the next few years, Ford became more acquainted with mechanics because of his work on steam engines, factory and farm machines, and by running a sawmill that was used to support him and his wife, Clara Bryant. Then in 1891, Ford became an engineer with the “Edison Illuminating Company” in Detroit. During this transition, Ford realized that his dream was to work in the industrial sector, thereby, dedicating his life to industrial pursuits.
With this dream in mind, Ford quickly moved up the ranks at the Edison Illuminating Company, and by 1893, he was named “Chief Engineer.” The promotion provided Ford with the time and money to begin his own personal experiments on the internal combustion engines, and his invention of the “Quadricycle,” which was a self-propelled vehicle consisting of four wheels and a gasoline engine. After two unsuccessful attempts to establish a company that manufactured automobiles, his dreams were finally beginning to take shape when he incorporated the “Ford Company” in 1903, which was theAs beginning of Ford’s legacy.
Henry Ford’s vision for the Ford Company was to create automobiles that were reliable, efficient, and most of all, reasonably priced for mass production. With this vision in mind, Ford created the “Model T” engine in 1908, which quickly became the top single model of any automobile during that era. Then over the next 19 years, Ford built 15,000,000 automobiles with the “Model T” engine and his dreams quickly came to fruition because he was able to provide an automobile for the masses, directly helping America become a nation of motorists. This achievement led Ford to international stardom, providing him with wealth, power, and the ability to influence others in the achievement of his goals, thus making him an elite in society.
So how do you become an elite in society similar to Henry Ford? The answer is simple. Follow your passion in life, work hard, and create a plan for your vision and never give up on your dreams until you reach your final destination.
Until next time my friends, I’ll see you on the road to success!