One of the most well-known sociological theories is George Ritzer’s idea of McDonaldization. This idea initially leads many to think of the company McDonald’s for which the term is properly coined after. McDonaldization defined by the sociologist George Ritzer 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” (Gordon). Ritzer’s based his idea’s on sociologist Max Weber’s work, that capitalism and industrialization were fueling a world in which our individual freedoms are being eroded.
By adapting Weber’s concerns to a more contemporary setting Ritzer saw that the fast food industry, in particular, is a great factor in how society is being effected today. The way that fast food industries prepare food for consumers is a prime example of Max Weber’s theory of the rationalization of the modern world. For instance, these companies use methods of scientific management for the improvement of economic efficiency (Wikipedia) and Fordism, which is the process of standardizing mass production (Wikipedia). These methods can guarantee, efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control to customers. Due to such practices, McDonald’s and other fast food companies included are having a negative effect over many other social institutions. Methods in the fast food industries continue to invade other aspects of our lives; health care, education, and even the media are impacted by McDonaldization’s expansion and acceptance in today’s society.
These four main dimensions of McDonaldization are achieved by taking rationalization to the extreme. In sociology, rationalization is simply defined as the way to replace logical rules for illogical ones (McDonaldization.com). By doing this, almost every task is simplified to its greatest possibility and results in an efficient, logical sequence of methods that can complete the task the exact way every time with the same precise desired outcome.
Having the ability to have controlled, consistent, and measurable outcomes are what any business works for. Seeing how these goals are rewarding for businesses and consumers, how might it be seen as a problem? As we all know, fast food is not the healthiest choice out there. It is high in fat, salt, and low in nutritional value. With obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems on the rise, it simply makes little sense for us to continue eating such products. This has non-Americans stumped as to why the norm is accepted when all the negative side effects of fast food are understood and yet we have no problem continuing to indulge in it. Once over the culture shock of our dependency on fast food, foreigners lose the ethnocentrism they once had and they themselves fall into our material culture.
Just like our craving for fast food, our educational system is seeking a more efficient model for our future generations. Standardized test and using inventions like social media have drawbacks (Bruenderman). Thanks to a rationalized model of education, teachers simply fill the students like boxes for the sole purpose of passing the next test. This process is efficient and means that the students have the best chance of graduation. Consequently, if all you learned in school were dates and facts, where would the personal interactions we all learned from go? As a result, what was once an intellectual exchange of knowledge between professor and student now results in nothing more than a business transaction. The students today are seen as consumers with the ideal that they need to go to college to get a job which in the past was looked at as a way to further a persons education rather than increasing their future salary. Regrettably, the restructuring of education from McDonaldization not only is occurring in schools but the media as well.
Today’s media, like the USA Today for example, has changed the way local newspapers present the news (Bruenderman) . Look at how headlines today are presented. Stories are shorter, contain only the needed information and infrequently do they continue to a second page. This lets the reader or viewer learn about many stories in a short amount of time without having to turn the page or flip channels. Media has also become brighter in the sense that journalists and reporters include brighter colors to grab attention. These tactics have lead to greater profits for news media outlets around the world. However, contemporary news is now more about entertaining the readers instead of informing them. Subsequently, the McDonaldization of the news does not accurately educate readers or let them form their own opinions on issues that are being reported about.
Taking the time to look at how much this country has shifted from quality to quantity shows how greatly the well being, learning, and our media insight have become McDonalized. Thanks to rationalization, people across these parts of society have become hypnotized into believing “more is better.” I believe it would be highly beneficial to combat this growing problem if we look closely at all the different ways our lives are affected by McDonaldization, first starting with its effects on LansingCommunity College. Looking at how our daily observations and interactions in which we spend almost half the year could lead to a greater understanding of the negative effects McDonaldization has on our daily lives. In doing this, maybe we will find a way to reverse the effects this McDonaldized society has on us.
Bruenderman, Andrew. NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF McDONALDIZATION. Rep. no. 2. Vol. 1. N.p.: GattonCollege of Business & Economics, University of Kentucky, n.d. Print.
“Fordism.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
GORDON MARSHALL. “McDonaldization.” A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998.Encyclopedia.com. 21 Feb. 2013.
Kaufman, Peter. “The Rationality of Irrationality.” Web log post. N.p., 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. (McDonald space man picture found here as well)
“McDonaldization.com – What Is It?” McDonaldization.com – What Is It? N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. (Lady Eating Burger Pic)
“McDonaldization Theory of George Ritzer.” YouTube. YouTube, 24 Oct. 2007. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
“Rationalization (sociology).” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
“Scientific Management.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.