George Ritzer: The McDonaldization of Society

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Modern McDonaldization

George Ritzer, in his acclaimed sociological commentary, The McDonaldization of Society, defines “McDonaldization” as “the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world” (Ritzer). Ritzer deems modern Western society an entity in which the individual in his or her natural creative, free-thinking state is rapidly being eclipsed by an authoritative, de-humanizing force in the name of technological progress. Ritzer names four major aspects key to the McDonaldization process: predictability, control, calculability, and efficiency (Ritzer). Ritzer asserts that via these four elements comprising the McDonaldization phenomenon, our society, along with myriad societies that emulate or are influenced by ours, is rapidly growing more impersonal, hierarchical, and mindlessly efficient—in short, more like a well-oiled fast food restaurant assembly line, and less like a society of interacting individuals.

The first hallmark of a McDonaldized culture, according to George Ritzer, is predictability. The corporate forces that shape a fast-food civilization assume that its citizens, if at all rational, desire the status quo and become unhinged if anything runs counter to expectation (Ritzer). The second characteristic of a McDonaldized culture is that of control, specifically, control via the substitution of nonhuman for human technology. In the 21st century, the skills and capabilities of people are quickly becoming things of the past. Who we are and how we interact is becoming defined by our dependence upon and subordination to machines. Mechanization has, and continues to supersede conscious human control in our modern society.

Calculability, or the ability to be quantified, is yet another defining characteristic of a McDonaldized culture. “Quantification refers to a tendency to emphasize quantity rather than quality. This...
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