McDonaldization is the term that was coined by George Ritzer to label a sociological incident that is currently happening in our society. The concept essentially denotes the specific kind of rationalization of production, work, and consumption that became popular during the early 20th Century. In actuality, the world is becoming McDonalized.
George Ritzer promulgated the theory of McDonaldization in The McDonaldization of Society, a book he published in 1993. Ever since, the concept of McDonaldization has become fundamental aspect in the field of sociology, especially in the sociology of globalization. Ritzer’s theory of McDonaldization is built up on the famous sociologists, Max Weber’s, theory that explains how scientific rationality produces bureaucracy.
According to Schneider and Silverman, during the 20th Century, Webers theory became the dominant consolidating stimulus of modern societies. Webers, theory states that modern bureaucracy was demarcated by tiered roles, catalogued understanding and roles, a professed merit-based structure of employment and development, and the legal sagacity on the authority of the rule of law. These characteristics still bear an influence on many facets of societies around the globe. Therefore, it would be fair for Ritzer to state that, the McDonaldization of society is a phenomenon that takes place when the society, its institutions, and its organizations are modified to have characteristics that are similar to those found within fast food chains. This is due to the fact that Reitzer believed that scientific, economic and cultural changes have had an effect on the organization of the society. This is in terms of shifting societies away from Weber’s bureaucracy to a new social structure that he termed McDonaldization. This new system, according to Weber is characterized by four aspects, namely, are efficiency, calculability, predictability and control.
According to Ferrante, The theory of McDonaldization is mainly seen in the operations of formal organizations such as voluntary organizations e.g. PETA, coercive organizations e.g. the military and utilitarian organizations e.g. McDonalds. This is because these organizations bring together people, resources and technology, then channel human labor towards achieving a desired outcome e.g. in the case of Burger King, their main aim is to sell food. They therefore present a good instance of the application of Ritzers theory in actual events that touch on our daily lives. McDonalds will be used as an example to illustrate Ritzers concepts of the McDonaldization theory.
McDonald’s as a Case Study to Explain the Theory of McDonaldization
Using McDonalds as a case study to expound on Ritzers premises of McDonaldization, we get to discover that the world is actually becoming McDonalized. Many fast-food joints, though serving different foods, often share the same characteristics. Ritzer states that despite the fact that these organizations share several characteristics that determine their popularity, they also represent a disturbing trend. In terms of similarity, all of the food that is served every branch of fast-food chains is similar. For instance, the food at all McDonalds outlets is similar. The same applies to the food at all Pizza Hut restaurants or any other fast-food chain. It does not matter whether one visits a McDonalds restaurant in Chicago or Illinois- the food served in these two branches will always be the same. One can also be reassured of the fact that the food served in these two outlets will be similar, regardless of the distance between them. The similarity of food across all McDonalds restaurants in the country, according to Ritzers theory, is referred to as predictability. Therefore, according to Ferrante, predictability refers to monotonous and repetitive manufacturing or service delivery practices which result in the steady production of identical products or incidences.
Secondly, the food at any McDonalds outlet in the U.S. is the exact same size and weight. This basically means that before each chicken nugget was cooked, it was the exact same size and weight as all the chicken nuggets produced in all McDonalds outlets. This factor basically ensures that McDonalds clients receive similar value for their money. According to Ritzer, this identical measurement of food, according to the concepts of McDonaldization is called calculability. Calculability can be defined as the choice to focusing on quantifiable rather than quality objectives.
Thirdly, McDonalds like any other fast-food restaurant offers services that are quick and efficient. An individuals order is being prepared as their order is being taken. This is especially made possible by the fact that everyone who is employed at the outlet has a specific role to play. From taking orders to cooking food to serving food, the division of labor within this outlet is the chief contributing factor towards the efficiency of McDonalds. According to Ferrante, efficiency is the third aspect of Ritzers theory of McDonaldization. This can be termed as to ensuring that the process from production to completion is attained within the shortest time possible.
The final aspect of Ritzers theory of McDonaldization is control. The effective running of McDonalds outlets is under the management which ensures that workers dress and act in a similar fashion throughout the working day. According to Ritzer, control in this case can also refer to the use of technology to lessen or replace human employees anywhere possible. For instance, machines in McDonalds outlets are used to make fries, dispense foodstuff such as snacks or drinks etc. consequently, control is defined as refers to the managerial skills wielded over workers to ensure they act in a specific way, or the inclusion of technology in service delivery processes.
Taking into consideration Ritzers theory and its application to McDonalds restaurants, McDonalds is a representation of the extreme restructuring of society. Therefore, according to Kendall, it would be in order to say that the McDonaldization of society is occurring in almost every aspect of our daily lives. This basically means that the society is increasingly becoming efficient, calculable, predictable, and being controlled by technology- a phenomenon that in reality stretches beyond the fast-food industry. For instance, in the U.S., the concept of chain stores or drug stores was a myth in the past six decades. In todays society, it is impossible not to spot chain stores like Gap and JC penny in almost every major city in America. In addition to this drug stores like Walgreens dot every metropolitan city in the U.S. As with the case of McDonalds, these stores are similar from the outlook to the uniforms worn by staff to the goods stocked on their shelves. Therefore, this is a clear sign of the McDonaldization of the society.
The McDonaldization of the society has come with both advantages and disadvantages. With the McDonalds case in point, predictability has made it possible for customers to order right off the bat, regardless of the location of the McDonalds outlet they are frequenting. On the other hand, predictability has its disadvantages. For instance, national retail chains have driven out of business smaller convenience stores. This might directly contribute towards unemployment. Therefore, it would suffice to say that the McDonaldization of society, has claimed innovation and ingenuity. Unfortunately, according to Ritzer we are accounting for our commitment to predictability, calculability, efficiency, and control. Consequently, we stand the risk of losing our eccentricity and also decrease the assortment of our substantial culture.
McDonaldization is a concept propagated by American sociologist, George Ritzer. His theory refers to the specific type of justification of manufacture, labor, and utilization that gained popularity in the late twentieth century. The common perception is that these factors have been modified to mimic the characteristics of a fast-food restaurant. These characteristics are, predictability, calculability, efficiency and control. Predictability refers to monotonous and repetitive manufacturing or service delivery practices which result in the steady production of identical products or incidences. On the other hand, calculability refers to focusing on quantifiable objectives while efficiency refers to ensuring that the process from production to completion is completed in the shortest time possible. Control refers to the managerial skills wielded over workers to ensure they act in a specific way, or the inclusion of technology in service delivery processes. The inculcation of these aspects into our daily lives has an effect that can be felt throughout society. This can be seen through the incorporation of various aspects of Ritzers theory the operation of organizations, mostly formal organizations such as fast food restaurants, and the military. This is because the theory of McDonaldization is mainly seen in the operations of formal organizations in which people create a coordinating mechanism to attain an outcome.
Disregarding incidences of production, McDonaldization has an influence on our principles, predilections, aims, and general outlook on life, this is in addition to our personalities, and our social relationships. It is also interesting to note that McDonaldization is a universal phenomenon mainly driven by Western conglomerates and the financial might and social dominance of the West this effectively leads to the universal similarity of economic and social life. Therefore, the world is increasingly becoming McDonalized.