The McDONALDIZATION OF THE SOCIETY

Topics: McDonaldization, McDonald's, Max Weber Pages: 9 (2978 words) Published: February 19, 2014
Introduction

In his book entitled ‘The McDonaldization of Society’, George Ritzer nicely encompasses concepts from sociology, management, and economics to provide a profound understanding of our modern society. According to George Ritzer, McDonaldization is defined 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 of the rest of the world. Toys “R”Us, Wal-Mart, Gap, Jiffy Lube, and Home Depot are all examples of companies that want to become the McDonald’s of their industry. The success of McDonald’s is also evident worldwide as over half of the company’s revenue comes from overseas operations serving 50 million customers a day. Indeed, this fast-food restaurant has become more than just a company. It has become a part of our culture.

McDonaldization’s Process

Ritzer argues that the success of McDonaldization can be explained through four dimensions. The first dimension is efficiency. For consumers the restaurant offers an efficient way to go from hungry to full. Workers at McDonald’s also operate efficiently by following predesigned steps of a process. The second dimension is calculability which focuses on the quantitative aspects of McDonald’s products. Examples include portion size, cost, and the amount of time it takes for the customer to get the product. This is important because people in the U.S. now view quantity as being as important as quality. People also calculate how much time it will take for them to get to a McDonald’s rather than eat at home. Predictability is the third dimension. When a person goes to McDonald’s he or she can be sure that the product is going to be the same every time they go. The fourth dimension of McDonaldization is control. This is exerted over the customers with the use of lines, limited menus, and uncomfortable seats. These methods of control cause people to eat quickly and leave. While McDonald’s has become an inevitable part of our society, there are still some sectors that are not affected. One aspect of un-McDonaldized society can be traced to the earlier pre-modern age, such as the ‘mom and pop’ grocery store. Although their operations have not been affected by McDonaldization, they are becoming rare due to the competition of Wal-Mart.

Trough his analysis, Ritzer refers to bureaucracy theory as proposed by the German sociologist Max Weber. Weber maintained that the modern West is marked by rationality and consequently is dominated by efficiency, predictability, calculability, and non-human technologies that control people. In the same vein, Ritzer considers the McDonaldization process as an amplification of this theory. Formal rationalization means that people’s search for the optimum means to an end is shaped by rules, regulations, and larger social structures. The bureaucracy ultimately leads to fewer options because virtually everyone can make the same optimal choice. Although the bureaucracy does not offer many options it still has advantages within the four dimensions of rationalization. First, the bureaucracy is viewed as the most efficient structure for handling tasks with large amounts of paper work. Second, bureaucracy values the quantification of as many things as possible. The third advantage is that because of rules and regulations, bureaucracy operates in a highly predictable manner. Finally, bureaucracy emphasizes control over people through the replacement of human judgment with rules, regulations, and structures.

The Forces that Drive McDonaldization

According to Ritzer, there are three important factors which contribute to the increasing prevalence of McDonaldization. These factors are: material interests, the culture of the U.S. which values McDonaldization as an end itself, and the degree to which McDonaldization is attuned to important changes taking place in society. Through McDonaldization economic goals and aspirations can become more easily...
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