Watson and Mcdonalds

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watson and mcdonalds

Watson, J. L. (2000, May/June). China’s Big Mac attack. In Berndt & Muse (Eds.) Composing a civic life (pp. 359-370). NY: Pearson / Longman.

Summary: According to Watson in China's Big Mac Attack (2000), fast food restaurants have made significant inroads in Chinese culture; therefore, he asks the question: "Is globalism - and its cultural variant, McDonaldization - the face of the future?" (p. 360) - an important question as we initiate our study of western influences on the rest of the world. Watson answers his own rhetorical question by

Pattern of organization: Cause and effect (and a hint of problem / solution)

First Watson claims to review the literature and the theorists who "argue that transnational corporations like McDonald's provide the shock troops for a new form of imperialism that is far more successful, and therefore more insidious, than its militaristic antecedents" (p. 360). But instead of academicians, he highlights op-ed writers such as Ronald Steel and Thomas Friedman, who has noted that no countries with McDonald's have ever fought each other in a war (p. 361).

To further investigate the secrets of the successful inroads made by fast food industries, Watson next explores the history of McDonald's in Hong Kong (a British consulate where McDonald's was "promoted… as an outpost of American culture" (p. 361). Because of changes in family life and traditional family values in China, Watson notes that McDonalds has taken advantage of an emerging focus on the "needs and aspirations" of the modern Chinese family, particularly given the "lavish attention" being given to the single child, the "little emperors and empresses" who are particularly vulnerable to the entertainments of "Uncle McDonald" (p. 363).

Admittedly, there are resisters who "grimace"; Watson points out that McDonald's has become a target for public protests against America, which has increased the "symbolic load" carried by the golden arches (p. 365).

However, McDonald's has responded by "disciplining" its work force and its customer base, and in so doing, has appealed to an "elite" group emerging within the modernized, consumer-based cultures that are developing in markets around the world. McDonalds has cleverly embedded itself into the local cultures in such a way that "it is increasingly difficult to see where the transnational ends and the local begins" (p. 369).

Further analysis: Watch for the war images and metaphors: "shock troops" and "outpost" indicate that Watson believes that international corporations have an imperialist design; they hope to conquer new territories and occupy new markets.

Note too that this essay is the intro to a collection of analyses on the inroads of fast foods in the Asian market: see USCan for further info / authors who have contributed to this collection edited and introduced by James Watson.

Barber, B. R. (1992). Jihad vs. McWorld. In Berndt & Muse (Eds.) Composing a civic life (pp. 370-380). NY: Pearson / Longman.

Summary: According to Barber in Jihad vs. McWorld (1992), we face "two possible political futures - both bleak, neither democratic... [either] a Jihad in the name of a hundred narrowly conceived faiths against every kind of …social cooperation and civic mutuality, [or] one commercially homogenous global network: one McWorld tied together by technology, ecology, communications, and commerce" (p. 370). Barber asserts that "the forces of Jihad and the forces of McWorld operate with equal strength in opposite directions" so as to create a "centrifugal whirlwind" that competes with a "centripetal black hole" (pp. 370-371). Neither outcome is desirable.

Pattern of organization: Contrast and comparison in support of problem / solution

After setting up the opposing forces of McWorld and Jihad, Barber begins with the force with which most of us are most familiar; he first develops the forces of McWorld by exploring "four imperatives" (p. 371)....
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