What Does Ritzer Mean When He Talks About 'Mcdonaldization'? Relate His Argument to Les Back and the Local/Global Relationship.

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This essay begins with a definition and description of the key elements of McDonaldization. A brief history of rationalization then leads into observations on technological advances and their role in globalisation. A discussion of globalisation follows and looks at how it has shaped the relationship between the local and global aspects of our society. With these concepts established McDonaldization is reintroduced to explore how it relates in light of the localized and globalized world.

Ritzer has defined 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, 2004)

Without a doubt McDonalds is a model of international financial success. The process of McDonaldization is not limited to the fast food industry or to its nation of origin. Why is the McDonald's model or McModel one that is transferable across industries, societies and around the globe? According to Ritzer, the principles of the fast-food restaurant appeals to consumers, workers and managers. That is efficiency, calculability, predictability and control. Efficiency is attractive to customers who have time constraints and are eager to eliminate their hunger as soon as possible. Employees also work to maximum efficiency by following the clearly defined steps in a pre-designed process they were trained in. They are also closely monitored by their managers to ensure they follow their tasks. Calculability is another feature of the McDonaldization process. The size of portions and the cost of production, as well as how long it takes to attain that product. All these quantitative elements are emphasized in McDonaldized systems. Predictability is a key attraction for the consumer. The McDonald's logo is a guarantee that regardless of location that the burger and fries purchased will be identical. The working environment is also predictable as staff members usually have scripted interactions with customers which generate a limited range of responses. Control is used by McDonald's primarily through the design of their interior. They have clearly defined areas for queuing, the menus are restricted to a few items, the lighting is bright and the seating is hard and uncomfortable, which helps in their goal of a quick turn over of custom to maximise profits. Control is exerted over employees through the threat of replacing them with technology, ensuring they execute their tasks without fault or through removing the possibility of human error by using machines.(Ritzer, 2004)

That McDonaldization originated in Western society is not purely chance. It was preceded by bureaucracy. German sociologist Max Weber wrote extensively on bureaucracies and the role that rationalization played in them. He spoke of the increasing rationalizing of the Western world through the emergence of efficiency, predictability, calculability and control through the use of nonhuman technologies. The parallels between Weber and his use of bureaucracy to demonstrate rationalization and Ritzer's fast-food model to illuminate McDonaldization are evident. It is clear that Ritzer has built on Weber's work. Ritzer refers to what Weber termed formal rationality. This refers to the search by people for the optimum means to a given end being shaped by rules, regulations and larger social structures. One key difference between them is that while some of Weber's writing was predicting the outcomes of increasingly bureaucratized world, Ritzer is writing in the time of globalization. Dealing with new technologies and a pace of life Weber could never have fully understood.

Globalization refers to the interconnection of regions, nation-states and continents through economic, technological and political means. (Back, 63) Technological advances have globalized our world and given us a new perspective on time and space. We can now instantly...
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