Toyota's Assembly Line
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Anybody who is a dedicated Toyota driver and admirer of the Toyota Production System would be shocked to read of Ryoji Ihara's experience as a casual worker in a Toyota factory in Japan. As the Toyota Motor Company continues on its inexorable march to become the world's biggest and most profitable carmaker, workers on the factory floor are still making sacrifices under the appalling conditions so graphically described in Satoshi Kamata's 1973 account, Japan in the Passing Lane: An Insider's Account of Life in a Japanese Auto Factory. Ihara's book is both a fearless exposure and a meticulous academic study firmly situated within the context of the sociology of labor. Drawing on recent theoretical debates in Japan as well as internationally, the author challenges widely held views on the respective roles of skill, supervision, and quality control in the car industry. Specialists in car industry research unable to access Japanese language sources should welcome this English translation of Ryoji Ihara's book, now with an additional chapter update. Yet, belying its academic intent, the work is written in a relaxed, entertaining style that should appeal to any reader with an interest in car making, the sociology of work, or Japanese society in general.