Introduction Anti-Globalisation Protests We have recently seen major demonstrations in Seattle, Washington D. C. and Prague. The demonstrators were rioting against the outlets of various fashion houses, banks and fast food shops, most of them of western origin.
There were the same scenes on TV from each city: tear-gas filled streets and police units trying to stop students and others from damaging shop-interiors and throwing chairs against windows, especially those of McDonald’s. Those anti-globalization protesters were demonstrating against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Those people were desperately trying to bring the conferences of the World Bank and the IMF to a halt. Similarly, on October 16, the worldwide Anti McDonald’s action day, demonstrations take place around the world. Last year in Belgrade “more than 6 000 leaflets were handed over in less than half an hour.” In 1995 approximately half of the 600 McDonald’s UK stores were disrupted by activists informing people on the subject of McDonaldization. DefinitionMcDonaldization is a term invented by George Ritzer to describe a sociological phenomenon that is happening in our society.
He defines McDonaldization as “the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world.” One may think it started with Ray Kroc in the 1950’s when he bought his first hamburger restaurant, but its origins were actually much earlier than that. In fact, Henry Ford was the first McDonaldization pioneer with his vision of an assembly line for improving the production of automobiles. His revolutionary efficient idea dramatically changed the manufacturing industry and his heritage can be seen in any modern factory. McDonaldization is an idea, furthermore it is the process of transformation to a system of rationality, efficiency and, only to name some factors.
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This process of transformation cannot only be seen at McDonald’s but at various other industry sectors, not all of them located in the fast food industry. But with McDonald’s the phenomenon can be easily explained. The process of McDonaldization has deeply penetrated into the mass culture and many aspects of daily life. More seriously, it operates in such a way that the majority of people do not realize its existence. Even if they know this process, they do not think that it creates any problems. Because McDonald’s achieved such overwhelming success, (McDonald’s had a net income of $ 1, 948 millions and system wide sales of $ 38.
5 billion in 1999) many other people or companies tried to imitate McDonald’s to some degree, and sometimes succeeded. Often only the prefix “Mc” is supposed to remind us of something which is fast and efficient: “Mc Doctor” and “Mc Dentist”, two drive-in medical treatment centers in the USA, where you are treated without an appointment; “McPaper”, a stationery shop which was founded in Germany about 5 years ago, or “Mc Dialer” a computer programme which automatically connects you to the cheapest telephone rate. “In essence, McDonaldization is the process of rationalization, albi et taken to extreme levels. Rationalization is a sociological term that simply means the substitution of logically consistent rules for traditional (or illogical) rules. One of the fundamental aspects of McDonaldization is that almost any task can (and should) be rationalized.” Henry Ford and McDonaldization in the Past Weber and Taylor In the 1936 Charlie Chaplin film “Modern Times” the employer tries to increase his employees’ productivity by speeding up the convey er belt or by experiments with a feeding machine that will enable employees to continue working while having lunch.
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While the feeding machine didn’t succeed, Chaplin’s other visions of a highly controlled workplace have been realized. Computer technology moved into fast food kitchens and took control over workers. But McDonaldization did not emerge from one day to the next. There are many important factors and elements which led to the development of McDonaldization. The earliest was Max Weber’s theory of rationalization. Weber defined rationality using terms similar to those used to describe McDonaldization: efficiency, predictability, quantification and control through the substitution of nonhuman for human technology, but he also saw the risks involved in the rush toward rationalization.
Additionally he also connected bureaucracy to rationality and efficiency. For him bureaucracy was the highest form of efficiency. For example there is no better system for handling millions of tax refunds than with bureaucracy. Furthermore bureaucracy is predictable.
Officials of any office will know with great certainty how other departments will behave. No official is free to choose how to decide, he must behave according to the rules laid down by his department. In this way bureaucracy controls the people working in a bureaucracy orientated institution. Similarly clients of such services like the Internal Revenue Service are controlled, because they can only receive specific services and know what to expect. After Weber, Frederick Taylor strongly influenced the manufacturing industry.
In 1911 he laid down the management principles acknowledged to be the basis of modern food service management. Taylor sought to establish the right of management to determine what workers ought to be doing, by dividing all jobs into a series of simple tasks and determining how these should be accomplished. The work of Taylor and, following him Frank B. Gilbreth, formed the basis of what is now known as the “Time and Motion” study. Taylor’s method consisted of two parts – first an analysis of the work process through a detailed definition of what the worker is supposed to be doing, and second, a reorganization of the work itself, to eliminate unnecessary steps and substitute faster, more efficient working methods, for the human workforce.
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This involved the development through scientific study of one method and one implement which is quicker and better than any other. Ford and Kroc Taylor had much in common with Henry Ford, who was the first person in America to install convey er belts in his factories in order to specialise every worker on given mechanical steps. But despite popular belief Ford was not the inventor of assembly line production. He got this idea from the meat industry, where whole cows were carried by a track under the ceiling and butchers only did one monotonous step e. g. like removing tails or certain organs and the cow moved along to the next specialised butcher.
Ford did little more than rationalize old technologies and pre-existing divisions of labour. With assembly lines he broke down each step of production and optimized them, in order to increase efficiency and productivity. What was so special about Fordism was his vision, his explicit recognition that mass production meant mass consumption. Assembly lines could handle the enormous demand which old techniques were not able to cope with. Furthermore assembly lines proved to be both highly efficient for the company, because it took less time to complete a car, and highly alienating for the worker.
While the traditional worker had a great deal of control over his working routine, the assembly line worker was almost totally controlled by the machine. In this way the company could also replace the number of highly skilled workers, who were no longer needed because the machinery decided what to do next, with low skilled or even unskilled workers. What each worker on the line does such as putting a hubcap on each passing car along the moving convey er is highly predictable and leads to identical end products. The automatic assembly line represented a remarkable step forward in the rationalization of production and became widely used throughout manufacturing. McDonald’s and Burger King also introduced assembly like production in their kitchens. The most obvious example can be seen at Burger King where raw patties are placed on a belt which carries the patties over heating reflectors, in order to cook them.
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Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, was not the person who introduced assembly like production to fast food kitchens. It was the two brothers Dick and Mac McDonald (their longer names were Richard and Maurice).
Kroc later bought this whole system from the brothers and improved it. The brothers operated a hamburger outlet east of Pasadena and began replacing timeworn food preparation techniques with assembly like procedures. At that time modern kitchen equipment had not yet been invented and the brothers created implements of the fast food industry which proved to be revolutionary. With these new methods they sped up production and efficiency and that was what impressed Ray Kroc.
As McDonald’s refined their production techniques, the members of their kitchen crew became specialists. Typically there were three “grill men” who did nothing but grill hamburgers, two “shake men” who only made shakes, two “fry men” who specialized in making french fries, two “dressers” who dressed and wrapped the hamburgers, and three “counter men” who did nothing but fill orders at the two customer windows. Similarly, popular entertainment shares these characteristics. For television drama series, songs and movies, many specialized posts are involved, such as director, editor, producer, composer, singer, actor, stunt man and many more. Effect on our Society Gains and Loss for Society There are and always will be people who hate McDonald’s and the whole culture of burgers and fast food, but McDonaldization has positive sides. It is important that we learn about it, because the process might sooner or later effect every possible field in our society as it is nearly impossible to stop the process.
A positive effect of McDonaldization is that there is a far greater availability of goods and services, which does not depend on time or geographic location. And far more importantly, this range of items is available to a much larger portion of the population, not dependent on race, origin or colour. Far more economical alternatives to high-priced, customized goods and services are widely available. Therefore, people can afford things they could not previously. E.
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g. many tour operators, like “Necker mann” or “TUI” in Germany now offer travel packages to exotic locations. Before McDonaldization, no lesser mortals would have dreamed of going to Thailand, Madagascar or Zimbabwe. In these journeys nowadays a local travel guide is included, who takes the tourists to the most interesting places.
“It is possible for tourists [from Hong Kong or America] to travel 5 to 7 cities in different European countries a week. Although they know the actual time they stay at each place is limited and the quality of this kind of tour is not comfortable, they still choose that as they can visit [the] maximum number of places within a limited period of time.” By this the tourists are controlled. They will not have problems or experience dangerous situations, because the travel guide will pre-plan all tours made by the group and he will stay with them at all times. Sometimes it is even the other way round, the group stays with the guide.
This means that all the tourists stay in a certain restricted area and never actually visit the country outside the hotel. This is the case at e. g. Club Medi terran ” ee or Club Robinson. In those clubs you have got everything you need under the same roof and there is no need to leave the grounds. McDonaldized products and services are more economical and almost instantly ready.
The customer saves time and money and knows exactly what to expect and when he shall receive it. Moreover, McDonaldized products can be compared because of standardization. People can do things such as to obtain money or a bank balance in the middle of the night that were impossible before. “In a rapidly changing, unfamiliar and seemingly hostile world, there is the comfort in the comparatively stable, familiar and safe environment of a McDonaldized system.” Though McDonaldization has great advantages for society it also contains many risks and downsides. The main risk is that of a growing degeneration and dehumanization. This degeneration not only includes the quality of McDonaldized items but also cultures and in consequence our children’s lives.
The sometimes centuries-old cultures will vanish. They will be replaced by uniformity. As McDonald’s puts it, “Customers know they can count on being served the same Big Mac whether they ” re at McDonald’s in Moscow, Idaho, or Moscow, Russia… .” . There will no longer be a local diversity. The dehumanization can be seen, for example in having to stand in a queue to eat.
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The whole setting of a fast food outlet makes the workers feel as if they were part of an assembly line. The company only demands minimal skills from its workers, this leads to job dissatisfaction, alienation, absenteeism, and a huge turnover rate. Contact or conversation between humans (if there is a human counterpart and you are not dealing with a machine) is also shortened to a great extent. Both employees and customers are likely to feel rushed and to move on, customers to their dinner and employees to the next order.
There is actually no time for customers and counter persons to interact in such a context. Not only the relationship to the customer is short, but also that to fellow workers, because fast food employees normally do not stay with that kind of job very long. The paradox coming with McDonaldization is the creation of irrationality. Ritzer calls it the “irrationality of rationality.” E. g. McDonald’s needs a specially grown type of potato for its french fries.
Those uniform potatoes are mostly grown in the Northwest of the USA and need fertilizer. As a consequence of this heavy use of fertilizer the water in the region is polluted and it is difficult to grow more potatoes. As is later explained in this essay McDonaldization leads to a deskilled human workforce, which is another main disadvantage. Bigger is Better People in western countries tend to believe that if something is bigger it must be better. Quantity is preferred to quality. Especially Americans hold this belief.
One cause of this is that the continent America itself has huge dimensions and everything on it from supermarket to cemeteries is bigger than anywhere else in the world. In consequence, people choose the biggest, even if we know that there are better alternatives with more quality. We know that the Big Mac will not taste superb, it will taste average, but it will satisfy our hunger. After all they sell the “Big Mac, not the Good Mac.” To give an example we could look at a McDonald’s restaurant. Although the menu is limited, it always offers us the choice of maximizing our selected items for only a very little amount of money. This gives us the impression that we get a lot more food for a relatively small amount of money, making us feel as if we were in a position of having control over McDonald’s; making us feel comfortable.
But the opposite is the case, McDonald’s controls us, e. g. by only giving us a very limited choice, by making us stand in a queue, by providing uncomfortable tables and chairs which make us leave shortly after we have finished eating. The music industry tells the same story.
It stresses the quantity of albums sold and the number of songs an album contains. The greater the quantity sold and the number of songs, the higher the preference. So this leads to a sense that quality is equal to, or followed by a large quantity. Qualities such as singing techniques, sentiment and meaningful content have become sub-factors to be considered. Undoubtedly this is driven by heavy promotion, too. Like McDonald’s, the show business of today creates heavenly kings and queens, comparable to Ronald McDonald and his friends.
They are appealing mainly because of fine appearance, trendy clothes and image. By heavy promotion through advertisements and television programmes, false needs are created. People are persuaded to accept the tailor-made entertainment and go along with the trends set by show business. For instance, the song “Anton aus Tirol” sung by DJ “Otzi was a great hit in Germany last year. In fact I had no interest in it after I heard it several times. Why was it then such an overwhelming success? Apart from the support of the singer’s fans, I think the day-after-day broadcasts and the advertisements made by the record label company played a big role.
People are easily convinced, and manipulated by the repetitive and heavy promotion and will buy the song sooner or later. It is the same with furniture shops, which make use of our understanding of quantity. In the advertisements of most furniture shops like “Inn hofer” or “Ikea”, their vast selection is stressed, not the quality of their goods. The advertisements imply that if they have such a big choice for their customers, everybody must find something which suits him. The opposite is the case; a more discerning customer will often be disappointed because of the poor quality. Another example is the number of titles or credentials a person possesses.
If a person has several different titles we tend to think that he is highly qualified, even if the opposite is the truth. Main Factors of McDonaldizationEfficiencyEfficiency is the constant search for the optimum, for the best way of reaching a desired result. As we know it is nearly impossible to reach the optimum, so one can only try to find better methods. “The process of McDonaldization takes a task and breaks it down into smaller tasks. This is repeated until all tasks have been broken down to the smallest possible level. The resulting tasks are then rationalized to find the single most efficient method for completing each task.
All other methods are then deemed inefficient and are discarded.” People in a McDonaldized society rarely search for the best means to a problem on their own. They believe that others before them searched for the most efficient way and those people who searched wrote regulations and manuals. It would be quite inefficient if everybody tried again and on his own for the optimum. Efficiency and the best ways are taught in training sessions to managers and workers.
This efficiency taught by the company may not always be so efficient for either the employees or the consumer. It is very efficient for the company if there is a queue, because they sell more. For you as a customer it is very inefficient, because you have to wait. To be efficient means recording all steps and processes which are necessary to produce something, analyzing and cutting out useless steps or methods and finally standardizing one way of doing something. At the start of McDonald’s there was no uniform way of frying fries. Sometimes they were mushy, sometimes hard.
McDonald’s spent more than three million dollars on perfecting its french fries. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, established a laboratory, in which every step was measured from the growing of the potato to the serving of the fries. The company spent years analyzing the factors which led to the most efficient way of frying fries. Ray Kroc himself visited several of his restaurants in which they served fries and recorded the exact temperature of every fry vat in stores. In the end they found what they were looking for.
The result was an efficient, logical sequence of methods that can be completed the same way every time to produce the desired french fry. All aspects of the process can be easily controlled. Additionally, quantity (or) becomes the measurement of good performance. We can clearly see advantages in efficient ways. The customer receives services and products more quickly and with less effort. The worker gets things done in a shorter period of time and the manager is happy because the customer was served faster and costs were cut by saving time and money.
The downside of this is that the worker and customer are dehumanized. Let me explain this with an example. At a Burger King outlet Whoppers are put raw under a sort of convey er belt with heating reflectors. At the end of this ninety-four second journey through the grill a member of staff is supposed to take the patties off the belt and place them on a bun. This means that every ninety-four seconds you have to do the same monotonous movement.
In the end this will lead to a “burnout”, meaning a nervous breakdown, of the worker. The only difference to the convey er belts in the automobile industry is that the belt cannot be speeded up, because the end results (patties) must be identically well done. “Burger King’s system is based on the old notion that a fair day’s work consists of all that it is humanly possible to do within a given period of time.” This means that the store management must push people around hard in order to get them to work more quickly. The machinery makes the cooking decisions and the workers must only be able to know what to do when the machinery gives the alarm.
Workers are not allowed to think or to be creative on the job. The only thing they must do is work hard and be faster than the competition. But let us get back to DJ “Otzi. Like the fast food industry, the entertainment industry also wants to be efficient. Popular songs nowadays can be sung easily and the lyrics, if there are any (the trend is to move from coherent texts to syllables or numbers like “ein’s, zwei, dre i, vier, f”un, sects, si eben, act, , hey baby, uh ah…
.” ), is easy to memo rise. Record companies are not willing to spend time on making good music and instil good values and concepts, because that would cost too much money. All they want is high sales figures. Cooking in Comparison Today we face several choices of how and where to eat. Eating can be described as the process of getting from the state of hunger to the state of satisfaction. All those ways of getting from here to there imply different grades of McDonaldization.
Firstly you could cook yourself an individual meal at home. Even if you have everything at home that you need it will still take a lot of time to prepare a good dinner. If you have not got everything at home, you will go to the nearest supermarket and buy the desired things, but this takes time and is less efficient as you first have to drive to the store and then wait in a queue to pay and return to your car and so on. But this solution is the less McDonaldized, because you prepare your meal yourself and only buy ingredients for it. If you grow your own vegetables, shoot your own livestock and cook everything yourself, the process is not McDonaldized at all.
Secondly you could drive to the supermarket and buy some ready cooked meal, which you only have to pop into some hot water or heat in the microwave. This is more McDonaldized because you only reheat the already cooked meal. Thirdly you can drive to McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s and buy a burger. You can eat it right away or take it home. This is what about 43 million people worldwide do every day (only at McDonald’s).
You drive to the nearest outlet, order, pay, eat and drive home or drive to the next McDonaldized institution.
This all happens within a very short period of time and you will know exactly what you get when you order a Cheeseburger. If you drive to some “normal” restaurant, it will probably also be McDonaldized to some degree but you could experience surprises such as that the soup does not taste good or that your steak is not done according to your wishes. When you go to McDonald’s you know exactly how the Cheeseburger will taste and you will in all probability not run into surprises. In all possible solutions we took the condition for granted that we at least had to move ourselves, because the food will not cook itself or because you had to drive somewhere. But there is a fourth alternative, in which the food comes to you. There is an American-based company called Domino’s which delivers pizzas to your home in a certain amount of time.
If they fail and their profits suggest that they normally make it on time, the pizzas are free. The main point is that you only have to make one telephone call. There are of course many other similar delivery services. You as a customer at a McDonald’s only generate costs, for example McDonald’s must provide you with a table or chair. In consequence McDonald’s sets up “Drive-Through” counters at which you pay right away and only collect your meal. You do not create any additional costs.
You even take your rubbish with you and McDonald’s does not have to put up litter bins. This seems to be the highest possible degree of McDonaldization. Egg McMuffin and USA Today All food items which are offered in the fast food industry are very easy to prepare, serve and eat. You will not find anything on the menu of a fast food chain which goes beyond finger food. The best example of efficient fast food at McDonald’s is the “Egg McMuffin”, which is an entire breakfast. Egg, bacon and muffin are combined in one single sandwich.
Just imagine how long it would take you to eat all that at a normal breakfast. It is much more efficient just to eat one sandwich. McDonald’s simplifies its products and limits the choice of its customers. USA Today, an American newspaper, does the same.
The newspaper only offers its readers short pieces of information (often called News McNuggets) as it is inefficient to read more than necessary to understand the main point. “This [inefficiency] is especially true of stories that begin on page one and then carry over to additional pages.” USA Today, which is often referred to as McPaper, can be compared to the Bild Zeitung in Germany, in which you do not expect to find long articles with much background information. Both USA Today and the Egg McMuffin are very simple structured things. They are both designed to only hold the essential parts.
With the newspaper this leads to a culture of ignorance. Local TV news programmes in the USA are another example of a simplified product, which lack important essence. Firstly they are not truly informative, because they do not reflect on important topics from our society. Those TV news programmes mainly report on how cats were rescued from trees or how some 9 year old saved the life of his father.
It is not even good entertainment, judged by the standard of entertainment. Control The basic idea of control is for the organization to gain control over people gradually and progressively through the development of technologies. Once people are controlled, it is possible to begin reducing their actions to a series of machine like routines. And once people behave like machines they can be replaced with actual machines such as robots. People are not predictable.
They tend to have their own ideas and finish their job according to their wishes. One Burger King worker might place the lettuce under the cheese or the other way round. This leads to different end products and that is the last thing which Burger chains want, because the hamburger might taste different from that served yesterday or served somewhere else. Fast food chains as well as their customers want identical burgers, because they do not want to experience insecurities or surprises. In consequence McDonald’s provides its workers with .”.. step-by-step pictorial procedures at key workstations…
.” . The food produced by McDonald’s is standardized by using non-human technology, such as automatic drink dispensers and french-fry machines. But not only workers are controlled, the transactions of credit card holders for example are being tracked as well. Firms like Mastercard and Visa use special computer programmes to record what you bought.
For example if you just booked a flight to London with your credit card, the system expects the next usage with your card from London. If the next usage is not from London (you could have bought the ticket for your child) they will not allow any transaction. The companies argue that it is a step against abuse, but in reality it is a step forward to total control. In the end this might lead to a scenario as depicted in Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’, in which identical sets of people are subject to complete control by the state. Putting Customers to Work It may not be clear to you, but you are doing unpaid work every day, which actually was done by somebody else, before McDonaldization rationalized those jobs. In supermarkets you return the empty bottles and bottle boxes by putting them into the automatic bottle return service station.
In consequence the supermarket chain no longer needs somebody calculating the amount of returned money and giving you a receipt for that. This is very efficient for the supermarket chain, because possible mistakes made by the person no longer occur and additionally the chain only needs to employ a less skilled worker, who is paid less money, to get the bottles out of the machine. I sent this example to George Ritzer, author of several books on McDonaldization, to help him gather more examples for his new book. He answered that he will possibly include this example in his future books. Another example located in the supermarkets are the cashiers.
Formerly they had to know the price of everything. Now they only have to put the item over the scanner and the cash registry does the rest. It is the same with the nearly forgotten petrol pump attendant. Before McDonaldization the attendant came out, filled the tank of your car with petrol, checked oil and water, and settled the account. Today you have to do that all by yourself and at some petrol stations you no longer need anybody there because you first pay with your credit card at a machine located near the pump and then fill the car up yourself. In modern car parks you must pay at automated machines.
This reminds me of an incident which happened to me some 7 years ago in an English car park. We had to stand in a queue to pay our ticket and there was one man in front of us. The machine charged the man a sum, which he believed was too high. This upset him to such an extent that he yelled at the machine as if it could understand him: “Thieving bastard.” All these examples show deskilling of the human workforce, because you no longer need somebody who is highly skilled or you do not need anybody at all. The outcome is a workforce with the minimum abilities necessary to complete simple focused tasks. This means that workers can be quickly and cheaply trained and are easily replaceable, again reminiscent of Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ in which people have lost all individuality.
Many would argue that cash withdrawal machines, for example are conveniences rather than inconveniences. They allow you to do your banking any time you want, unhindered by inefficient bank hours. However, keep in mind that these automatic tellers serve to reduce the level of human interaction. Consumers are forced to deal with computers and not people, training them to be better workers for the McDonaldized society. Rationality means Predictability “Rationalization involves the increasing effort to ensure predictability from one time or place to another.” A rationalized system therefore emphasizes such things as discipline, order, systematization, formalization, routine, consistency and methodical operation. In such a society people prefer to know what to expect in most settings and at most times.
This was the downfall of Bed and Breakfast. Before the emergence of such big hotel chains like “Holiday Inn” or “Best Western”, travellers never knew what to expect in a Bed and Breakfast. The owner could be nice and helpful or rude and horrible. These differences and individual characters and rooms made every journey unpredictable and a unique experience. Nowadays those Bed and Breakfasts are not able to compete and many have to close down.
Within a comparable price range, the traveller can only choose between three or four motel chains, which are more or less the same. The operators of those chains even have role models for the workers and stress that every room in every motel is identical. Very often the reception is not manned all day and they only have part-time workers. A machine welcomes the customers at times when there is nobody there (Etap hotels).
Again this is a degeneration and leads to a lack of communication between humans. What about the Future Future Trends Since the principles of fast-food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more aspects of life everywhere, the question is whether the process can be changed or stopped.
I think this situation is difficult to change, perhaps impossible to stop. We were born into McDonaldization and are money-oriented and always looking for profit. As McDonaldization generates higher profits we are not likely to change to something different. Additionally we do not think doing everything fast causes any problems. Without educating the public about the underlying problems, we will continue with the same practice and are reluctant to change. McDonaldization is a central process in the modern world, ergo this essay constitutes an analysis and critique of modernity.
“However, a number of contemporary perspectives, especially post industrialism, post-Fordism, and postmodernism contend that we have already moved beyond the modern world and into a new, starkly different society. These views imply [… ] that McDonaldization will soon disappear with the emergence of a new societal form.” Daniel Bell, a sociologist, argues “that society has moved from goods-production to service provision [and] also points to the rise of new technologies and the growth in knowledge and information-processing.” But despite this huge increase in knowledge the number of low-status service occupations shows no sign of dropping, in fact they have expanded and are central to the McDonaldized society. This stands in contrast to Bell’s theory. Other sociologists see a trend that could be called the “” of society.
This process involves the diversification of product lines. What was once a single sneaker designed for everything from running, walking, to basketball and bicycling now is split up into different shoe types and you will find at least 10 different running sneakers in your shoe store. I myself worked at the central warehouse of Sport S check for Germany located in Otterfing for 4 weeks in my summer holidays. The shoe department is located in the cellar and has the area of about one football field. In numerous shelves are filled with all variants of shoes for hiking, golf, marathon running, etc… This reflects the replacement of mass production of identical end products by the agile marketplace with an even greater variety of goods.
For McDonaldization it is easier to produce just one single type of sneaker, but nothing prevents the McDonaldization of the production and sale of a wide range of sneakers, and that is exactly what for example Nike or Reebok do. This is the future of McDonaldization. More diversity with faster availability. But there are also parallel trends like Post-Fordism interfering.
Fordism, as I explained, especially puts emphasis on identical end products. Post-Fordism implies the decline of mass production of identical end products and the emergence, similar to sneaker ism, of a diversity, demanded by a new customer class, which is willing to pay more money for better quality and unique products. E. g. nothing is more terrible for a woman than seeing another woman in the same dress.
Post-Fordism needs smaller more flexible production plants than Fordism. Those production plants must be equipped with new technologies, which are easier and quicker to alter, than the old single function technologies, in order to get different end products. Those technologies require workers with more diverse skills and better training, because they must handle the different, more demanding and more sophisticated production lines. The worker gains more responsibility and autonomy. Additionally there are “slow food” trends emerging in many countries. Those could be a threat to McDonaldized institutions.
If there are enough people who resist the temptation of McDonald’s (and those people would have to be sought outside the USA, because the USA is the most McDonaldized country in the world) a strong lobby could form an opposition. The problem is that if something is successful and attracts many people some entrepreneurs will rationalize it and bring it back to a McDonaldized institution. How to cheat McDonaldization With McDonald’s expecting .”.. to open more than 2, 000 restaurants each [not only this] year worldwide… .” it is impossible to escape McDonald’s, not forgetting Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell and the many others. With virtually every sector McDonaldized we ask ourselves, if there is anything which is untouched by McDonaldization.
Even the churches could not hold against the mundane power. “In 1985 the Vatican announced that Catholics could receive indulgence through the Pope’s annual Christmas benediction on TV or radio. [… ] Before this development Catholics had to engage in the far less efficient activity of going to Rome for the Christmas benediction and manifesting the “proper intention and attitude” to receive their indulgences in person.” There are sectors in our society which have avoided the process and are only McDonaldized to a small extent, but they are dying slowly.
In our town we still have a traditional corner shop, despite many supermarket chains. That shop sells everything from fresh fruit to pencils. Sadly the shop does not attract many customers and the owner is an old man, who will probably give up soon. If you dislike the controlled atmosphere surrounding McDonaldization and want to break free, you can cheat the system. The most radical solution to avoid McDonaldized institutions would be to pack up and move to some Amazonian tribe or to a desert island. But there are better alternatives to that.
Nearly all people have certain routines, which they perform every day. For example driving to work on the same route or always brushing your teeth with the same hand. To break the circle just drive to work on a different route or change hands when brushing your teeth. Use your local vegetable or car service station stores.
Buy your eggs from your farmer if you have one nearby. Do not frequent the big chains like Edek a or T engelmann. The next time you need new glasses go to your local optician rather than Fiel mann. If you are a regular visitor to McDonald’s try to get to know the counter people who serve you. This de-Mcdonaldized the relationship between you and the worker.
Especially parents should keep their children away from McDonaldized institutions, in order to let their children experience a natural environment. This prevents children from becoming mindless supporters of McDonaldization. Take them to the woods instead of going to the cinema. If you go on vacation choose a Bed and Breakfast instead of a Holiday Inn or a similar chain. Keep your children away from television and encourage them to play creative board games. If you use some of the advice you will possibly think differently about things.
You will not be able to reverse McDonaldization, but perhaps you will be able to escape it for some time. In January 2001 in Davos, the protestors marched again. They were not able to disrupt the World Economic Forum, because security was better, but they got attention from the media. With the media reporting, hopefully some people noticed the existence of the problem.
Bibliography General statement by the author: The notes given in the text just reflect some part of the whole research of the thesis. The reason for that is that the author has written parts of the ‘Facharbeit’ drawing on the information which he gathered half a year ago when he read the books listed here. Books Bryson, Bill: Made in America; Black Swan; London; 1994 Harvey, David: The Condition of Postmodernity, An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change; Basil Blackwell; Oxford; 1989 Kroc, Ray & Anderson, Robert: Grinding it out, The Making of McDonald’s; Henry Regnery Company; Chicago; 1977 Love, John F. : McDonald’s, Behind the arches (revised ed. ); Bantam Books; New York, London, Auckland, Toronto, Sydney; 1995 McLamore, James W. : The Burger King, Jim McLamore and the Building of an Empire; McGraw-Hill; New York, London, Tokyo; 1998 Mi troff, Ian I.
& Benn is, Warren: The Unreality Industry, The deliberate manufacturing of Falsehood and what it is doing to our lives; Birch Lane Press; New York; 1989 Prichard, Peter: The Making of McPaper, The inside story of USA Today; Andrews and McMeel; Kansas City, New York; 1987 Reiter, Ester: Making Fast Food: from the frying pan into the fryer (second ed. ); McGill-Queens University Press; Montreal, Kingston, London, Buffalo; 1996 Ritzer, George: Expressing America, A Critique of the Global Credit Card Society; Pine Forge Press; Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi; 1995 Ritzer, George: Man and his work, Conflict and Changes; Meredith Corporation; New York; 1972 Ritzer, George: The Mcdonaldization of Society (revised ed. ); Pine Forge Press; Thousand Oaks, London, New Deli; 1996 Ritzer, George: Mathatheorizing, Key Issues in Sociological Theory; Sage Publications; Newbury Park, London, New Delhi; 1992 Shoshana, Zuboff: In the Age of smart Machine, The future of work and Power; Basic Books; New York; 1988 Internet Boo Wai Hung, Steve: Term Project: Is Hamburger fit for life? Mass culture and everyday life; relieved by email from author on 2. 1. 2001, 20: 32 Lehmbecker, S. ; Geld – Newsletter # 111; 11.
1. 2001, 13: 14 Ra tibor, Trivunac: Anti- McDonald’s day in serbia; Newsletter of the A. – info news service, News about and of interest to anarchists; 16. 12. 2000, 17: 06 Timothy B. Burleson; What Is McDonaldization? ; web 30.
12. 2000, 9: 10 Newspapers and Magazines Getz, Arlene: Out in The Cold, Travel nightmare: far from home with a frozen credit card account; Newsweek, November 6; 2000; page 85 Power, Carla: Mc Paradox, Europeans love protesting against McDonald’s – almost as much as they enjoy eating there; Newsweek, July 10; 2000; page 14 Spake, Amanda: How McNuggets changed the world, The story of fast food: Yes, you are what you eat; U. S. News & World Report, January 22; 2001; page 54 Information received from Fast Food companies Burger King Germany: several publications including: Unternehmensreport 1999 McDonald’s Germany: several publications including: Jahresbericht 1999, Sociales Engagement 1999, Informations mappe 2000 McDonald’s America: several publications including: Performance at a Glance, Welcome to McDonald’s, Annual Shareholders Report 1999 McDonald’s Great Britain: several publications including: McDonald’s Education Service, Student Information Pack 1998 Note from the author wrote this essay in January 2001 as my ‘Facharbeit’ at a German High School.
This essay is of course not complete and there are many other aspects of McDonaldization, which I did not mention. If you want to learn more about McDonaldization, I strongly recommend that you read the book ‘The McDonaldization of Society’ by George Ritzer (can be bought online at web), or refer to the Bibliography and read the books listed there. I have nothing personal against McDonald’s, Burger King and other Fast-Food chains. I won’t stop eating Hamburgers after writing all this and will occasionally go to McDobald’s or Burger King. If you want to copy parts of my work feel free to do so, but please be so honest as to quote me. It would also be nice of you, if you mail me your comments and thoughts on my essay.
If you wrote an essay by yourself or copied mine in some parts, it also would be great if you mail me your work. If you have any additional questions, please read the frequently asked questions at my McDonaldization homepage at web or contact me directly. Christopher Vickers, All trademarks remain the property of their respective trademark owners. McDonald’s, Golden Arches, Egg McMuffin, Big Mac, Super Size, and Happy Meal are trademarks owned by the McDonald’s corporation and its affiliates. Whopper is a trademark owned by the Burger King corporation. For more information visit their websites at web or web.