Mass production refers to the making of large quantities of standardized products. The process involves division of labour and each worker specializes in one or two tasks, doing repetitive work. On the other hand, the craftsman is the expert who is solely responsible for all the steps involved in producing the product. There is assumption that the craftsman is the master who has skill, and expertise to ensure that all his products are of a good quality.
Whether mass production will inevitably lead to a loss of quality and craftsmanship will depend on the nature of mass production, the adaptability of the craftsman and our definition of quality. Mass production could be the end of craftsmanship and quality under certain circumstances. Take Vertu Corp. and Nokia Corp. as an example. Vertu Corp. is a British-based manufacturer and retailer of luxury mobile phones of high quality standards and fine, elaborated details. In contrast, Nokia Corp. s a Finnish multinational communications corporation, engaged in manufacturing of mobile devices and is easily the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones. Despite the fact that both Vertu Corp. and Nokia Corp. are manufacturers of mobile phones, however, we observe that Vertu Corp. targets the creme de la crop of the society and emphasizes on the quality and craftsmanship; Nokia Corp. meets the needs of the general public and focuses on the quantity instead. Thus, under the circumstances to meet the raising demands of mobile phones from the society, Nokia Corp. orsakes quality and craftsmanship in order to meet the quantity needed, unlike Vertu Corp. opts for superior craftsmanship of each individualized mobile phones rather than mass-producing them. However, poor quality is not necessarily the result of assembly line. Operating on the assembly lines, each worker is only in charge of a particular part of the product, which intention is to allow fewer mistakes to be made and in turn produce higher quality products. After all, practice makes perfect, with specialization, there will be more high quality products being mass-produced.
In addition, quality control checks are also conducted randomly on a regular basis, to ensure the products are of a certain level of quality and not just of shoddy works. Therefore, quality mass production can still be achieved and maintained under frequent quality control checks. Indeed, both mass production and the craftsmanship can complement each other. Mass production allows things to be produced at a faster rate, in order to better meet the world’s rising demands. At the same, craftsmanship allows us to fine-tune the products mass-produced.
For example, in general public schools, teachers teach many classes, perhaps of different levels. Each time, the teacher teaches a large class of student and the lecturer conducts a lecture for an even larger number of students. In this case, students are the mass-produced products as the teachers mass-taught. Of course, mass-produced products might have some flaws. The students might be unable to fully comprehend what is being taught in class and lectures, or perhaps, would like to further improve themselves.
Hence, we require the work and skills of craftsmanship for further self-improvement. Students would seek for external tutors at their own expenses, to coach them with their school work and also learn more things, just to give themselves an added advantage over their peers. Therefore, mass production and craftsmanship, in this case, have complemented each other and brought about better performance. Thus, the compromising of mass production and craftsmanship has brought about lower production costs for the general public.
Production costs are reduced tremendously by mass production. Previously, televisions are considered as rare household items and few people own one. All thanks to the ability of mass production, the cost of television is lowered significantly and televisions are slowly becoming a common household item that is indispensible. Although the quality of mass-produced pieces did not compare with the quality of individually handcrafted pieces, however, these standardized items are made affordable to common people.
In conclusion, mass production might have, in one way or another, affected the craftsmanship and quality of products, compromising them in order to meet the rising demand of the today’s world where technology advancements are rapid. However, items that were mass-produced need not necessarily be of poor quality. Indeed, the level of quality and craftsmanship of individualized items are definitely more superior to standardized items in some ways. Yet, the merging and compromising of mass production and craftsmanship has brought about better benefits and thus, further improving humans’ standard of living.