A number of writers, including Gorge Ritzer, have written about the McDonaldization of society, a topic that has raised controversies within the social circle. The topic attempted to bolster the Weberian analysis of the contemporary society and its active nature. According to Ritzer, McDonaldization is the process where the precepts that govern the fast food restaurant business are fast catching up with many other sectors of the American society and the rest of the world (Ritzer 4). Arguably, McDonald’s is one of the most successful companies worldwide serving approximately fifty million customers each day. Its overseas operations contribute to more than half of its revenue. Therefore, it is safe to state that the company has become a part of the American culture.
The Process of McDonaldization
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According to Ritzer, the McDonaldization’ process has been successful thanks to four dimensions, the first from which is the efficiency. Consumers see the restaurant business as a proficient way to fill their stomachs. Employees at McDonald’s also work efficiently by undertaking the laid down procedures. The second dimension is calculability, it centers on the quantitative facets of all products from McDonald’s including the cost, portion size and the time a consumer waits for a product. This is essential because many Americans have come to appreciate quantity as much as they appreciate quality. They calculate the amount of time it would take them to eat at McDonald’s instead of at their homes. The third dimension is referred to as predictability. When customers visit McDonald’s, they are sure that their favorite products will be the same all through. Control, the fourth dimension, is exerted over the consumers with the use of uncomfortable seats, queues and limited menus. These are effective methods of control because people are forced to eat fast and leave (Ritzer 34). A number of other companies, including Wal-Mart, Home Depot, “R”Us, Jiffy Lube and Gap are trying their best to emulate McDonald’s successful business tactics. Nonetheless, not all sectors of the society have been affected by McDonald’s, for example, the ‘mom and pop’ grocery store, which goes back to the early pre-modern age was not affected. However, this sector faces stiff competition from other new-age market entrants like Wal-Mart.
Ritzer analyzes this concept by referring to bureaucracy as viewed by Max Weber, a German sociologist. According to Weber, the contemporary West is marked by rationality, which is dominated by predictability, calculability, efficiency and other non-human technologies that control the society (Horkheimer 31). Ritzer views the process of McDonaldization as an augmentation of this theory. According to the concept of formal rationalization, the search of the finest means to an end is shaped by regulation, rules and large social structures. Consequently, the bureaucracy ends in fewer options since everyone can make the exact optimal choice. Bureaucracy offers few options, but it still has numerous advantages within the dimensions of rationalization. To start with, bureaucracy is the most resourceful structure for undertaking tasks that require huge amounts of paper work. It also signifies the quantification of numerous things. Thirdly, bureaucracy works in a predictable manner because of the rules and regulations involved. Lastly, bureaucracy stresses control over the customers through the substitution of human judgment with structures, rules and regulations.
Forces that Fuel McDonaldization
Ritzer points out three crucial factors that add forces to the increase of pervasiveness of McDonaldization. Some of these factors include the U.S culture that values McDonaldization and material interests, as well as the degree to which McDonaldization affects the whole community. Consequently, the society has come to value things like calculability, efficiency, control and predictability. They will seek these values whether or not there are instances of the economic gain. Thirdly, McDonaldization interlocks perfectly well with several other social changes that happen throughout the entire world. The fast-food business thrives perfectly in a society that stresses the need for mobility. Consequently, such restaurants fit a society where people always like to be in the move.
McDonaldization and Calculability
Calculability, according to the description by Ritzer, refers to how a McDonaldized society embraces quantity more than quality. Such an emphasis on quantity in these restaurants ends in a decrease in quality for the customers. However, they are not the only ones that end up suffering from the restaurants that stress the need for quantity and not quality. The most cost effective way to make huge quantities of food is to break down the preparation process into many individual parts. Every worker conducts his/her specific task continually; therefore, employee will not feel any pride in his/her line of work. This means that, both the work experience and services offered by the employees undergo a decline in quality. According to Ritzer, everything in a McDonaldized world has to be quantifiable. For instance, in the modern American educational system, the focus appears to be on how many students will go through the system and what grades they will attain more than the quality of education and of the things that they learn in class. The entire educational system has turned out to be quantified in every sense; students are currently being evaluated by GPA (Grade Point Average) and how it ranks against their classmates (Ritzer 56). In addition, colleges have ended up quantifying the way they rank against other institutions in their region. Television shows have also been quantified since stations prefer to use ratings system in determining the shows that will stay on air and which ones will be struck out.
McDonaldization and Predictability
In view, the customers will enter any McDonald’s store and get the same experience regardless of the place it is situated. Employees will be in the same uniform and customers will get the same experience. This experiences increase efficiency and allow the company to offer the same products. The need for predictability has been embraced in the movie industry as it can be seen in the movies like Saw, Spiderman, Mission Impossible or Shrek. Customers appear to be comfortable with non-original movies. The same applies to the educational sector.
McDonaldization and Control
The non-human technology, according to Ritzer, is controlling both the workers and consumers. Such technology at McDonald’s increases instances of control over employees, which ensures that customers get the same experience when they place an order. The same technology control is applicable to the education sector.
McDonaldization and Efficiency
Notably, the fast-food business did not form the wish for efficiency; nonetheless, it has helped it to become a universal reality in the daily lives of many people. The McDonalization process is streamlined and has encroached into other restaurants within the same business niche. Restaurants like Burger King, Taco Bell and Domino’s have come up with processes that will get customers in and out as fast as possible. The demand for simplicity in home cooking and speed led to the introduction of the frozen food industry. McDonaldization has also affected exercise and dieting. Many diet centers have sprang up with prepackaged dried food, the books at the moment promise workable shortcuts to loosing weights and the pills that promise an end to getting fat are sold everywhere. Other areas like entertainment, healthcare, shopping and higher education have also been affected by the McDonaldization process. Shopping malls, department stores and gas station now allow consumers to buy their goods and services efficiently and quickly. Universities currently offer assessments that are graded by a machine, which gives academics more time to carry out publication and research. People no longer see the need to go to movie theatres because other entertainment modes like Netflix have flooded the market.
McDonaldization in the Educational Sector
Efficiency in Higher education is seen in twofold: the restructuring of universities into market oriented goals of value -in terms of student stakeholder and government funding, and also - in terms of proficient line of graduates to meet the changes brought about by globalization and needs of capital. This instrumental rationality minimizes university research and education to a workable formula of what can be referred to as the knowledge production and knowledge transfer. The predictability seems apparent in higher education in the UK. There is a sense of bureaucratic rationalization of research and lecture to serve economic ends. It is evident in everything from the squeeze in subject areas and research funding to corporate investment and emphasis on transferable skills that need to be grasped by students when they finish their studies (Verne 113). One can view the process of rationalization and instrumental planning in the way the bureaucratic performance assessment and academic autonomy is fast being lost. An institution can be termed as being successful if it churns out many graduates who are willing and ready to meet the demands of what is referred to as knowledge economy (Horkheimer 34).
According to a white paper released by the UK government in 2003, all education has to be about connecting knowledge to the creation of wealth. In essence, universities have eventually turn into training centers that will promote capitalistic ideas. It is an anticipated duty of universities to produce graduates who are full of the willingness and desire to make their way to the front of the survival race characteristic of late capitalism. In effect, apart from graduates who will find a place in training programmes in top companies, others will still be sufficiently compliant and motivated while aware of the shortage of top jobs. Consequently, this group will accept the end returns that they encounter in their search of jobs. This will influence a downward effect on de-skilling, which will need a constant re-training process and learning in order to survive.
Following such argument, the universities have to offer a service where student consumers will measure their investment value in terms that can be quantifiable (Verne 154). In this sense, the value of education will be an uncomplicated active means towards the end means of improving student’s chances in the market. In view, universities have to embrace reforms and turn towards honing and training the transferable skills needed by the capitalism and knowledge economies. According to Richard Lambert, CBI Director, university research and education should be streamlined to produce managers and employees that are better skilled and ready to meet market needs. He stated this in complain to the recent oversupply of graduates in the UK. Reform of the higher education should change to adapt to the ever-changing world. Quoting Marxist thoughts is always important, the purpose of the research and education is not just to interpret the world, but also to keep on changing it or at least attempt to change it.
In conclusion, McDonaldization, in application of Ritzer’s McDonalization view, should be seen as the propensity towards the rationalization of the exact processes, where every task is broken into its finite piece. The individual executing it has either little or no control at all, hence becoming interchangeable. Arguably, the labor processes as characteristic of recent technological capitalism depends on the processing and handling of information or service provision, thereby being in need of instrumentalized forms of interaction and communication. Nonetheless, the same logic of capitalism requires jobs become proliferate. The professional worker should align with the tedium and take it as his or her own. The current model of the higher education has become the symbol of inadequacy and is meant to serve the process. The McDonaldization of education, bigger class sizes and online courses have limited instructors and students from having a close interaction as before.
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