Mcdonaldization Of Society Essay, Research Paper
The way that Burger King and other fast food restaurant chains do business and markets their products to consumers is due to the change in our society to where the consumer wants the biggest, fastest, and best product they can get for their money. This change in society can be attributed to a process known as McDonaldization. Although McDonaldization can be applied to many other parts of our society, this paper will focus on its impact on Burger King and Taco Bell restaurants. My belief is that the process of McDonaldization has lead our generations toward a more a much more efficient lifestyle, with much less quality. From my observations and studies of these fast food resturants, several themes have become apparent to me. The first and overall theme that emerges from the idea of fast food is that the employees of these establishments seem to work more as machines, rather than people offering a service to the public. A second theme that can be identified from my observations would be that the people visiting these fast food restaurants are more or less searching for the most efficient way to get what they want, giving little or no regard to the quality put into it.
According to Ritzer, the founder of the concept of McDonaldization, it “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 the rest of the world.” Upon walking into Burger King restaurant, I found that most of the people waiting in line to place their orders or receive their order were younger or middle-aged, and had children or were students. All of these people shared a common attitude of being hungry and impatient. The people gave little to no regard to how hard the employees behind the counter were working or struggling to work faster. Many patrons were short tempered, rude, or incredibly ill-tempered when placing their orders yet the employees still smiled at the next person in line, repeating the same phrases over and over, “Can I help the next person in line please,” or, “Would you like a drink or fries with that?” These repetitive phrases and actions of the employees of both Burger King and Taco Bell were small examples of the machine-like theme identified in the work setting of fast-food restaurants. Employees were taught to disregard disgruntled patrons and move through the line as fast as possible so that each patron would be served in a timely and satisfying fashion. Just as a machine would pull items in at the beginning of the assembly line and throw them out at the other end of the line, so did the employees treat the patrons of their establishment. This is achieved by calling them to the counter and filling their order then sending them on their way with a kind, almost sarcastic, “Thank you, have a nice day!”
Upon visiting Taco Bell, another fast-food restaurant, I found the same scenarios as Burger King, and in some instances, more obvious examples of machine-like employees. The areas that were designated for the filling and preparation the orders were clearly out of the public view, so that patrons would not be able to see the assembly line on which their lunches were being prepared. The food is prepared and heated in stainless steel containers, sour cream, guacamole, and hot sauce are all squirted out of hand held stainless steel, “sauce guns,” and the tortillas are kept in a, “steaming box,” for several hours until they are all used to make burritos and tacos. These are just the examples of how the food is prepared, the ay in which the employees work is much more detailed. The employees stand along a counter and fill the orders in an assembly line fashion. One worker pulls the tortillas out of the steamer and shoots sauce onto it then slides it down to the next worker who may add the cheese or meat. This worker will then slide it down to the next worker who might be responsible for adding the lettuce or tomatoes. Finally the burrito is slid down to the next worker who wraps the food up and takes it out to the waiting patron.
Being unable to see all of this production enables the patrons to believe in the fact that their food is made with care and quality with the best ingredients. The FDA will not allow food in restaurants to be made with anything less than quality products, but the manner in which it is prepared and served to patrons has nothing to do with quality or care, it is all about efficiency. Owners of these businesses are only concerned with serving as many people as they can in as short amount of time as possible. According to Henslin, this is one of the main characteristics of bureaucracies, which are outlined through McDonaldization. “Bureaucracies, which have become a standard feature or modern life, are a powerful form of social organization.” (Henslin, Pg. 110) Bureaucracies depend on impersonality, as displayed by the workers of both Taco Bell and Burger King restaurants. They also rely on divisions of labor, which make it so that each worker has a specific task to fulfill, which in turn makes it so that when all of these tasks are fulfilled, then the establishment works as intended and goals are met.
Although there are some benefits of McDonaldization, in general, this process can be viewed as harmful to our society. McDonaldization is a very large-scale example of the bureaucracies of our society. I feel that fast-food restaurants have opened up a whole new world for our generations that make it clear that things can be done more quickly and efficiently, though quality if of little importance. This is an unacceptable way of thinking for modern America. If we let people get away with the idea that quantity is more powerful than quality, than the structure of our society will begin to disintegrate more than it already has. Henslin points out that if people do not care about the quality of today’s product, then items will be made more cheaply and then will break down, or break our society down at a much faster rate. Although I am sure that Raye Croc, the founder of McDonalds, had no premonitions to create a whole new idea of efficiency, he certainly opened up the doors to a much deeper concept of the bureaucracy whether he had the intension of doing so or not.