Mcdonaldization: Resistance Is Futile, or Is It? Term Paper

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McDonaldization: Resistance is Futile, or is it?

In Mankind's attempt to unify the world under binding peace and lasting prosperity, we may homogenize ourselves to the point that we lose creativity, individuality, and certain inalienable freedoms. That's the subtle message and warning from George Ritzer, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland and author of the stunning, eye-opening book the McDonaldization of Society - an Investigation Into the Changing Character of Contemporary Social Life. The book is not designed to attack the fast-food restaurant giant or its ilk: it is designed to address a system that has been incorporated into American society and commerce that increases aspects productivity while binding certain freedoms. This system has not only spread throughout this country but is slowly infecting the world: people see this American system or model - first created by Henry Ford but honed and enhanced by Ray Kroc of McDonalds in the 1950's - as pro-active/can't lose money generating proposition. But this McDonald's Model, as Ritzer points out in his book, comes with a price tag: it simply affects various aspects of our society, its people and the laws, that - while producing some benefits (building commerce, creating jobs, improving productivity) - are harmful overall to the whole community and of who we are as Americans, or as a people.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Mcdonaldization: Resistance Is Futile, or Is It? Assignment

To begin to understand McDonaldization, Ritzer first identifies what this concept is. McDonaldization is a form of rationalization. Ritzer claims he longed "believed that bureaucracy represents the ultimate form of rationalization. However, it gradually began to dawn on me that something new was on the horizon, something that was destined to replace the bureaucratic structure as the model for rationalization. That 'something' turned out to be the fast-food restaurant, most notably McDonald's" (Ritzer, xi). Ritzer updated German sociologist Max Weber's definition of rationalization, as he saw in a bureaucratic context, called formal rationality, which "means the search by people for the optimum means to a given end is shaped by rules, regulations, and larger social structures for the best means of attaining a given objective" (Ibid, 19). Weber's theories, which were based on his research in the late 19th Century, felt that "bureaucracy were embedded in his broader theory of the rational process and the idea of the iron cage of rationality...emerged from it....[and] was particularly upset by the irrationality of rationality, a concern that lies a the heart of this book" (Ibid, 18-19). Weber purported that rationality existed in one form or another through many societies and civilizations over the centuries, but that it had produced a unique form that fit his theory, which was the existence of "rules, regulations, and structures that either predetermine or help them discover the optimum methods" (Ibid, 19). Weber found this as a major achievement in the way Mankind acts within a society. In the past "people had to discover such mechanisms on their own or with vague and general guidance from large value systems. After the development of formal rationality, they could use rules and regulations to help them decide what to do, or, more strongly, people existed in structures that dictated what they should do....people no longer had to discover for themselves the optimum means to an end; rather, optimum means had been already discovered and were institutionalized in rules, regulations, and structures. People simply had to follow...the structure (Ibid). And the most important revelation of this theory was that it was very restrictive, no individual variation was permitted "in choice of means to ends. Since the choice of means was guided or even determined, virtually everyone could make the same, optimal choice" (Ibid).

It's no wonder that Weber used this model toward bureaucracies: government officials and employees operating under a set of rules and regulations to establish a structure from which their ends can be made possible. But "Weber described bureaucracies as dehumanizing, in much the same way and with many of the same concerns restaurants" (Ibid, 20). But what Weber saw in bureaucracies, Ritzer saw it with companies like McDonald's: both the benefits and the dangers, which are taken in the form of irrationalities of formal rational models that places the individual "in confinement...emotions [are] controlled, and spirit... subdued....they are settings in which people cannot behave as human beings" (Ibid, 22). We can clearly see the thinking behind Weber's term of "iron cage of rationality." Weber 'feared...that these systems would grow more and more rational and that an accelerating number of sectors of society would come to be dominated by rational principles....their only mobility would be to move from one rational system to another....[like] from rationalized educational institutions to rationalized workplaces, and from rationalized recreational settings to rationalized homes. There no escape from rationality; society would become nothing more than a seamless web of rationalized structures" (Ibid, 22-23). and, again, Ritzer began thinking of rationalization within the modern world, and upon his own examination and research, he saw where rationalization had infect our society through an example of one successful company, who methods and models and systems were replicated and honed down to a method that others incorporated within their own workplaces - first with other fast-food chains, but then other businesses and institutions took McDonald's Model and adapted it to their own system, whether it was a school or a large manufacturing plant; and as you create these rational structures, you create a lifestyle with dangers that will erupt through irrationality of the system. What Ritzer warns that formal rationality created a foundation in the Western World through government bureaucracies - as Weber cites - but then it begins to encompass the populace through more common and direct avenues: the food-chain, the clothing-retail chain, the housing-goods chain, etc. And once rationalization is found throughout American society, other nations and societies - adopt themselves to our systems and structures as a way to improve their way of life and lifestyle. It is the unpredictability of the outcome in rational structures that poses the most hazard: it may look good on paper, and it may work, but over a period of time the results causes the greatest concerns, and Ritzer points this out through numerous examples. Despite the identification of McDonaldization, this societal system has expanded to an alarming rate for one simple reason: money. McDonaldization is "impelled by material interests, especially economic goals and aspirations. Second, it is drive by our cutlureal system and the fact that McDonaldization has come to be seen as a valued end in itself. Finally, McDonaldization continues apace because it is attuned to various changes taking place within society" (Ibid, 147).

The reason Ritzer uses McDonald's as a model is that they were the first to truly create a network of chains using rational systems that were profitable. As an example, "McDonald's... sales were $6.8 billon and its profits were in excess of $800 million.... McDonald's...began franchising in 1955, opened its 12,000th outlet in March 1991....[and] McDonald's opened more restraurants aboard (427) than in the United States (188)" (Ibid, 3) in 1991. Such overseas locations includes Moscow, Beijing, and Paris; it's been a model to other restaurants as Burger King, Fuddrucker's, Sizzler, and Red Lobster.

Professor Ritzer identifies four distinct areas of McDonaldization. These areas form the foundation from which rationalization is found in the fast-food restaurants, and most certainly in other institutions in society. McDonaldization calls for the system to be efficient, calculable, predictable, and controllable. There were the same dimensions identified by Weber about rationalization within bureaucracies. Viewing rationalization in modern times, or as McDonaldization, efficiency "means the choice of the optimum means to a given end, but this definition requires some clarification....optimum...means to an end is ever found....there is a striving to find and to use the best possible means....In a McDonaldization society, people rarely search for the best means to an end on their possible means to innumerable ends have been institutionalized....Although the fast-food restaurant did not create the yearning for efficiency, it has helped turn it into a near-universal desire....Kroc's obsession with efficiency predated...McDonald's....What disturbed him...[was] restaurants...lack of efficiency....'There was inefficiency, waste, and temperamental cooks, sloppy service and food whose...quality was never consistent. What was needed was a simple product that moved from start to completion in a streamlined path' " (Ibid, 35, 37). When Kroc created McDonald's he was trying various ways in preparing, cooking, and serving the hamburger - constantly refining their methods to an assembly line-like system, examining every aspect of the operation and production: the size of the burgers, how much they weighed, cooking time, the size and types of burger buns, how much condiments would be used, how many lettuce leafs are needed, how thick to slick the tomato, etc. It all boiled down to producing a hamburger meal quickly to the least amount of cost. Very similar to Henry Ford, whose criteria included that "workers are not to take any unnecessary steps; work-related movements are reduced to an absolute minimum.... Parts are needed in the assembly process are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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