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The McDonaldization Of Society Essay Sample

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The McDonaldization Of Society Essay Sample

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. According to Max Weber, formal rationalization is the search by people for the optimum means to a given end shaped by rules, regulations and larger social structures.  [1]Individuals are not left to their own devices in searching for the best means of attaining a given objective.[2]

 For Weber, the archetypical manifestation of this process was the Bureaucracy; a large, formal organization characterized by a hierarchical authority structure, well-established division of labor, written rules and regulations, impersonality and a concern for technical competence.[3] Previously, people had been left to discover for themselves based on their own discernment, beliefs, values, culture and social orientation. In the recent years, they could use institutionalized rules that help them decide or even dictate to them – what to do.

[4]Bureaucratic organizations not only represent the process of rationalization, the structure they impose on human interaction and thinking furthers the process, leading to an increasingly rationalized world.[5] The process affects all aspects of our everyday life. Ritzer suggests that in the later part of the Twentieth Century the socially structured form of the fast-food restaurant has become the organizational force representing and extending the process of rationalization further into the realm of everyday interaction and individual identity.[6] McDonald’s serves as the case model of this process in the 1990’s.[7]

McDonaldization,…is 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. [8]

Due to the phenomenal growth of McDonald’s worldwide through franchising, it started a trend that all sorts of business adapted. Central concepts employed in the fast-food industry have spread to all types of restaurants. Coffee shops, banks, toy stores, bookstores, newspapers, child care, learning centers and a host of others have followed. In the 1980s and 1990s, McDonaldization has extended its reach into more and more regions of society and the world as a whole as these well-established companies widen their operation into other countries and continents.

According to Ritzer, there are four characteristics in McDonaldization process: Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and the Replacement of Human by Non-human Technology.

Efficiency means the choosing of means to reach a specific end rapidly, with the least amount of cost or effort. The idea of efficiency is in handling of large tasks requiring a great deal of paper works.  This gave rise to the idea of online banking and tax filing and payment, salad bars, self-serve beverage, ATM’s, voice mail and call centers.

This is being done in McDonalds through the use of an operating manual which contains in written form the complete method for conducting the franchised business and provides detailed advice and guidance on how the business should be operated.- how and why various components fit in with each other.  The procedures are already tested for a number of years and are now the set standard of procedures in all company-owned stores and franchised outlets.  Any deviation from such will be a violation of the franchise agreement.

            Calculability – numerical standards are set for both processes and end results. In terms of processes, the measurement is usually on speed, whereas for end result, the number of goods produced and served or their size. Examples of this element include: the “Big Mac,” the Whopper,” “Big Gulp,” Wendy’s Biggie French Fries,” food sold by its weight. The performance of the service crews are usually measured in terms of speed of service and delivery time which gave rise to “delivery in an hour if not, your order is free” sales campaign.

Predictability refers to the attempt to structure our environment so that surprise and difference do not encroach upon our sensibilities. This is being done in McDonalds through the use of an operating manual which contains in written form the complete method for conducting the franchised business and provides detailed advice and guidance on how the business should be operated.- how and why various components fit in with each other.

The procedures are already tested for a number of years and are now the set standard of procedures in all company-owned stores and franchised outlets.  Any deviation from such will be a violation of the franchise agreement.  There are set of menus and value meals to choose from.  McDonald’s store lay out, the service crews’ attire, greetings, equipments and the products offered are the same all over the world.

Control Through the Substitution of Nonhuman for Human Technology – this is especially true with the use of computers, automatic cash registers, automatic cooker and the like for redundant and clerical jobs.  Most clerical jobs are now performed through the use of computers and are usually automatic or programmed thereby removing human intervention in the process.

McDonaldization of  Banks

            The banks’ operation system has evolved throughout the years with the computerization of most of its procedures.  It was common to see long lines of people waiting to be served before bank teller booths.  Through the use of Automatic Teller Machines and on line banking transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, bills payments, balance inquiry, mobile phone reloading are made easier and accessed by clients 24/7.  Through the use of 24 hour service customer hotline most queries are done over the phone.  The clients can open an account, transfer fund, reorder checkbooks, stop payment and do investment transactions anytime without going to the bank.  People can pay their bills without going to the merchants.

Bank statements can be downloaded and printed anytime through the internet or receive faxed copy through instructions coursed through the phone.  People can now buy from supermarkets, groceries, bake shops and other establishments using their ATM cars through swiping just like a credit card.  The computerization made it easier for the banks to serve the most number of people, in a wider range, anytime, anywhere without much human intervention.  The bank saves on time, personnel and rental fees.  Recently, they also came out with express banking centers in malls, supermarkets and other busy areas which were open on Sundays and holidays to accommodate busy clients aside from installation of ATMs everywhere.

The Irrationality of Rationality

Although there have been many benefits and conveniences that are related to this process of McDonaldization: variety, round-the-clock banking and shopping, and often speedier service; there is a certain sense that these rational systems tend to turn in on themselves, to lead to irrational outcomes.[9]

“Most specifically, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that I mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them.” [10]

 The food we eat is often less nourishing, loaded with stabilizers and flavor enhancers, fats, salt and sugar. This contributes to the health problems of our society, a definitely “antihuman” component. As our children grow up within these systems, they develop habits which insure our increasing dependency upon the systems. The packaging used in fast food industry pollutes the environment. People are no longer encouraged to think of new ways of doing things.  Workers may feel like robots programmed to perform certain tasks due to required strict adherence to rules, regulations and procedures.

The computerization of most customer-oriented tasks lessens the chance of people to interact and communicate with each other which is a basic need of human as social beings.  Services tend to be impersonal and so stiff. This might be the reason why the problem on chronic depression is rampant especially in highly progressive countries and busy cities.  Some people are less compassionate and unfeeling especially the new generation since most of them grew up in an environment where you can be served and assisted through a push button without a need for another.  The family used to prepare and cook food together but due to the use of microwave, it will be easy to prepare and cook food whenever any wants to eat.

The communal meal is our primary ritual for encouraging the family to gather together every day. If it is lost to us, we shall have to invent new ways to be a family. It is worth considering whether the shared joy that food can provide is worth giving up. (Visser, 1989:42; in Ritzer, 1994:156)

Bibliography:

George Ritzer. “The McDonalization of Society Revised New Century Edition, Pine Forge Press, 2004

The McDonaldization of Society (Robert O. Keel analysis)

Retrieved March 7, 2007 URL: http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/mcdonsoc.html

The quote from Margret Vissner, taken from Ritzer’s presentation is found in:

“A Meditation on the Microwave,” Psychology Today, December 1989, pp. 38ff.

[1] George Ritzer. “The McDonaldization of Society Revised New Century Edition, Pine Forge Press, 2004

[2] George Ritzer. “The McDonaldization of Society Revised New Century Edition, Pine Forge Press, 2004

[3] http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/mcdonsoc.html

[4] George Ritzer. “The McDonaldization of Society Revised New Century Edition, Pine Forge Press, 2004

[5]http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/mcdonsoc

[6] http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/mcdonsoc.html

[7] http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/mcdonsoc.html

[8] http://www.umsl.edu/`rkeel/010/mcdonsoc.html

[9] http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/010/mcdonsoc.html

[10] George Ritzer. “The McDonaldization of Society Revised New Century Edition, Pine Forge Press, 2004

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