Mcdonalization Essay, Research Paper
Is Mcdonaldization Inevitable?
George Ritzer?s, Mcdonaldization of Society, is a critical analysis of the impact on
social structural change on human interaction and identity. According to Ritzer,
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 rest of the world?
(Ritzer, 1). Ritzer focuses on four foundations of Mcdonaldization: efficiency, calculability,
predictability, and control. These are the commandments of any rationalized corporation.
However, they are not carried out from the point of view of the consumer. Efficiency, for
example, may entail the placing of great inconveniences upon a consumer for the sake of
efficient management. Calculability may involve hiding certain information from the
consumer. Predictability and control may involve a company’s ability to predict and control
consumer behavior, not the consumer’s ability to predict what kind of product or control what
kind of service he gets. Ritzer calls such breakdowns “the irrationality of rationalization.”
Ritzer points out the irrationality of rationality, as all of the supposed benefits of
Mcdonaldized systems backfire: waiting in long lines, suspect quality, little or no customer
service, little or no customer service, the illusion of large quantities for low prices, and
severely limited selection of choice.
Throughout Mcdonaldization of Society, Ritzer describes Mcdonaldization as largely
negative and often destructive. While Mcdonaldization is rapidly taking over American
society and spreading to the rest of the globe, it is not something unjustly imposed on the
American people. The consumerist culture of America has groomed the public to seek
efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. These principles grow in importance and
value in contemporary America. Even when given the choice to avoid a Mcdonaldized
establishment or product, people will flock to it. I agree with Ritzer?s analysis of a
Mcdonaldized society, but I feel that Ritzer has failed to provide any real solutions to the
Mcdonaldization process. I will support Ritzer?s analysis of the Mcdonaldization process, but
also show that it is inevitable and essential in the American society to have a rationalized
Ritzer stresses that ?Mcdonaldization? does not just refer to robotlike assembly of
food. Rather, this process, occurring throughout society, is transforming our lives. ?In the
1980s and 1990s Mcdonaldization has extended its reach into more and more regions of
society, and those areas are increasingly remote from the heart of the fast-food business?
(Ritzer, 137). Shopping malls are controlled environments of approved design, logo, colors,
and opening and closing hours. ?For those people who wish to see Europe, a package tour
rationalizes the package. People can efficiently see, in a rigidly controlled manner, many
sights while traveling in conveyances, staying in hotels, and eating in fast-food restaurants
just like those at home? (Ritzer, 21). ?USA Today? produces the same bland, instant news- in
short, unanalytic pieces that can be read between gulps of the Mcshake or the Mcburger. Is
this all bad? Not necessarily. Efficiency does bring reduced prices. But at a cost, a loss of
something difficult to define or quantify, a quality of life washed away by rationalization.
When I travel, for example, had I taken a packaged tour, I never would have had the
opportunity to have all the unique experiences that I?ve had. However, the costs may be even
simpler than that. For example, just recently I was ordering food through the drive-thru
during lunch hour. The employee at the window was already stressed from trying to work too
fast, gave me large cokes in a flimsy cardboard container. The coke went from the window
onto to my car seat. Later it was established that the lids weren?t even properly placed on the
glasses. This is also and example of the irrationality of rational systems. The lines at the
fast-food restaurants can be very long, and waiting to get through the drive-thru can even take
longer than going inside.
In addition, Ritzer explains that in Mcdonaldization establishes control through the
substitution of nonhuman for human technology. He explains that ?…these two elements are
closely linked. Specifically, replacement of human by nonhuman technology is often oriented
towards greater control. The great source of uncertainty and unpredictability in a
rationalizing system are people-either the people who work within those systems or the
people who are served by them? (Ritzer, 148). For example, in my telemarketing job,
individuality is frowned upon. The idea is to read the screen and deviate as little as possible.
The human employee is not required to think, just follow the instructions and push the button
now and then. What this means is that the skills and capabilities of the human actor are
quickly becoming things of the past. Who we are and how we interact is becoming defined
by our dependence upon and subordination to the machine.
Even so, there is a great perception among American consumers in particular that
Mcdonaldized systems succeed from their own point of view based on those criteria: the
systems are perceived to be more efficient, the benefits calculable, the goods and services
predictable. But it’s rare that the consumer will ever feel himself to be more in control.
Mcdonaldized systems take away a great deal of consumer autonomy, making decisions and
implementing processes on a mass-market scale with little room for individual involvement
on the part of a single customer or even a single store or plant manager. The benefit of control
is one that accrues exclusively to the company. Why would so many Americans value a
system that robs them of even the right to make the simplest decisions? The answer is
complex. Ritzer points out that ?in a society where both parents are likely to work, or where
there may be only a single parent, efficiently satisfying the hunger and many other needs is
attractive? (Ritzer,9). For example, if grabbing a doughnut and coffee from Dunkin? Donuts
in the morning is the price to pay to sleep that extra hour in the morning, most Americans
would support Mcdonaldization. Mcdonaldization is a result of a ?productive? society. In
free market society, companies are looking to maximize profits and managers are looking to
maximize sales. Employers want efficiency and predictability from their workers. They want
to be able to control their employees. With so much of the day spent at work and commuting,
the only way people can get everything done everyday is to rely on time saving methods.
With increasing productivity and development comes an increasingly rationalized system.
Regardless of who benefits or to what extent, the universal result is homogenization.
Rationalized systems have a pronounced tendency to squash individual tastes, niche markets,
small-scale enterprise and personalized customer service. Differences are leveled, wrinkles
smoothed, knots cut off — convenience at the expense of character. An overwhelming
sameness develops, along with a decrease in responsiveness. The system that seeks to mimic
a machine becomes a machine, incapable of making exceptions or taking risks. I believe that
the greatest loss is that most people know of no other society than the rationalized society and
therefore cannot even hope to deviate from it. For good or for bad, our social destiny is to
live in such prepackaged settings.