Mcdonaldization of Society

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Education and Family:
The McDonaldization of Two Social Institutions

Nicholas Lyons

Course name and number
Professor ________
July 6, 2009

Education and Family:
The McDonaldization of Two Social Institutions
As the economy rises and falls, as politics changes, and as technology advances, the social institutions of education and family remain important in personal and social growth. Yet, as important as both family and education may be, the two social institutions have adopted the principles of the fast food industry, thus losing their quality and purpose in a manufactured process known as “McDonaldization” (Ritzer, 2008, p. 1). McDonaldization is defined as the social 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, 2008, p.1).   Ritzer’s analysis is based on Max Weber's theory of rationalization: George Ritzer has taken central elements of the work of Max Weber, expanded and updated them, and produced a critical analysis of the impact of social structural change on human interaction and identity. The central theme in Weber's analysis of modern society was the process of Rationalization; a far reaching process whereby traditional modes of thinking were being replaced by an ends/means analysis concerned with efficiency and formalized social control (Smart, 1999, p. 3).         Ritzer (2008) attributes the success of the McDonalds franchise, and of McDonaldization as a whole to four “alluring dimensions”, namely efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control (p.1). One way our society has tried to make life a little easier for both producers and consumers is by implementing the four basic factors of McDonaldization in everyday life.  Efficiency, the first factor of McDonaldization, is described as the "...optimum method for getting from one point to another..."(Ritzer, 2008, p. 9). Education is becoming more efficient in the form of web-based schools. Online schools advertise getting Bachelor degrees in less than two years, although it takes an average of four years to receive that same credential at a traditional university. Education is becoming more efficient in today’s society because speed is what students want. “Students like to have things go by as quickly and as smoothly as possible, using a system that has already been established for them” (Hayes & Wynyard, 2006, p. 131).   The power and progress of our society is based on speed. When services, goods, and even information moves slowly, the rest of the world speeds on by. Speed could be viewed as most important to consumers because they prefer to reach a specific end rapidly, with the least amount of cost or effort. The social institution of family adopts the principle of efficiency, despite not having a traditional consumer or product. Sociologist Bryan Turner (1996) maintains that when family is viewed as a business, “the members of the family are similar to consumers”, and the basic functions that the institution of family provides become the product (p. 57). Taking care of children is a function provided by the family that has become more efficient with the use of day care centers. Finding an outside source to provide the function of taking care of young children is a quick and easy choice in families.  Another factor of McDonaldization is calculability. According to Ritzer (2008), calculability involves an emphasis on things that can be calculated, counted, quantified (142). Calculability tends to put more emphasis on size and measurements than on quality. There is no focus on the quality of what is being produced as long as it meets the size and measurement requirements.             The principle of calculability is represented in our education system. Students are herded through schools with no...
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