If you have ever had a meal in a restaurant (fast-food/formal dining), used an ATM in a bank, spent your vacation at an amusement park or simply browsed through a mall, you have been exposed to McDonaldization. McDonaldization is "the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of America society as well as the rest of the world" (Ritzer, 1996, 1). Nearly every aspect of today's society has been affected by McDonaldization including the restaurant business, education, work, healthcare, travel, leisure, dieting, politics and the family (Ritzer, 1996, 1). One of the first functions of McDonaldization is efficiency. Efficiency means choosing the optimum means to a given end. In our society, people like to have things go as quickly and as smoothly as possible, but they do not want to find out the fastest way themselves. Instead, people like to have a system that has already been used and that they know works. Efficiency has its advantages for both consumers, who get what they want quickly and with little effort, and for workers, who can perform their tasks in a simple manner. The fast food industry is very streamlined, because hamburgers are the simplest food there is to make. Other foods also do not need a lot of ingredients, and they are simple to make and to eat. Most of the food is also prepared so one can eat it with their hands, thereby reducing the need for utensils such as hamburgers. In the process of McDonaldization, consumers are forced to do a good deal of work as well. They have to stand on line, carry their own food, and throw out the garbage. This is not as efficient for the consumer, but it saves time for the workers. Education, health care, and the work place are all becoming McDonaldalized in order to become more efficient. Efficiency in McDonaldization has streamlined many processes, simplified goods and services, and forces the consumer to do work as well. Another factor of McDonaldization is calculability. This tends to put more of an emphasis on quantity rather than quality, but it allows the consumer to get a lot of food quickly. When things are easily counted, it facilitates the process by making it more predictable by using the same amount of materials. Part of McDonalds is an emphasis on size. Everything is "super sized," or has names that make food items seem larger than they actually are. Calculability, however, also leads to the quality of the food being neglected. Because people feel as if they are getting a lot of food for their money, they are not as worried about how good it tastes. Food is always weighed and measured precisely, which is another part of calculability. All burgers weigh the same amount, there is the same number of fries in each container, and the new drink machines dispense the same amount to each cup. This same theory is seen in our educational system. Students are herded through, and no one really pays much attention to what or how they are learning, just that they receive high grades so they can get into a good college. Health care has also seen the impact of these, because now patients are mainly treated just to squeeze some money out of them, and doctors seemingly don't truly care about their patients anymore. Calculability basically reduces the quality of goods, but improves the quantity of them. The third function of McDonaldization is predictability. In our society, people usually want to know exactly what to expect from a given situation. Predictability gives the consumer a break from having to make difficult decisions, and the worker can perform their task with little effort. One of the first places predictability became common was with motel chains. Before motels became franchised, guests didn't know exactly what they would be getting, for the good or the bad. But then hotels such as Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson's started, and guests knew exactly what they were going to get...
Bibliography: Ritzer, George, The McDonaldization Thesis, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1998
Alfino, Mark, Caputo, John S., and Wynyard, Robin, McDonaldization Revisited: Critical Essays on Consumer Culture, Westport: Praeger, 1998
Emerson, Robert L., Fast Food: The Endless Shakeout, NY: Lebhar-Friedman Books, 1979
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