Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Institutional theories of organizations state that organizations reflect society's wider values and norms. Less attention has been placed on the questions of whether and how private interest organizations influence wider societal values and norms. This study examines archival material, as well as published primary and secondary sources, relating to the history of the Ford Motor Company, in particular its Sociological Department, in an effort to assess the company's progressive era project to instill in its workforce a particular set of values and attitudes, which were seen by Ford as healthy, and appropriate. Though we are used to seeing Henry Ford and his Ford Motor Company as makers of automobiles, in at least its early history, the company also engaged in "human engineering" through its Sociological Department. Ford was "making men" as much as he was making cars. The company's sociological project attempted to engineer American, working-class (family) men out of the thousands of mainly Southern and Eastern European immigrants that flocked to Detroit. This study pays particular attention to the implications of the Ford sociological project for race, ethnic, class, and gender relations. Therefore, the questions that this research answers revolve around what may be called the social dimensions of early Fordism, and are answered through an examination of the discourse and actions of the Ford Motor Company as a case study, under the light of institutionalization and structuration theories.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Sociology Commons