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Hagar Cohen's work, Glass, Paper, Beans.

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Sometimes in life we are unwilling participants in the events that go on around us, and that at times can be both a good and a bad thing. In Hagar Cohen's work, Glass, Paper, Beans, she defines the term "feiti�o" (199), as a "thing made" (199), a fetish manufactured which people believe possesses spiritual or magical properties. Upon further investigation, another definition for feiti�o can be found in the work by Jos� de Vasconcelhos Menezes, Os Marinheiros e Almirantado: elementos para a hist�ria da Marinha (Sailors and Admiralty: elements for the History of the Navy). Menezes defines the term feiti�o, as "a magic spell or black magic spell cast on subjects by which they are dominated and in which the subjects are either willing or unwilling participants" (1989:133). This term can be used then to describe the McDonaldization of Society, by George Ritzer, when he defines McDonaldization as "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 of the rest of the world" (2000:1). McDonaldization is then a feiti�o which dominates us and almost every sector and aspect of our society. We cannot help but be dominated by it and are all willing or unwilling participants in it. Hagar-Cohen's work Glass, Paper, Beans, contains examples of how McDonaldization has taken over our daily lives. To fully understand the effects of McDonaldization, it thus necessary to examine and define Ritzer's four dimensions of McDonaldization Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and Control, as they apply to Hagar-Cohen's two characters. Thus, it will be argued that each character in Glass, Paper, and Beans experiences McDonaldization in different ways as either a willing or unwilling participant in the process. Ruth can be viewed as being the subject most heavily influenced by McDonaldization and Brent being second to Ruth as being affected by McDonaldization. ...read more.


Ritzer defines calculability as "calculating, counting, quantifying" Quantity tends to become a surrogate for quality" (2000:62). This dimension has entered our daily lives and thus is also a part of the hold that McDonaldization places over us. Ritzer goes on to say that even in the work place this can be seen for employees where "calculability often means obtaining little or no personal meaning from their work; therefore, the work, products and services suffer"(2000:63). In the case of Ruth, this calculability is clearly defined in the plant of Anchor Hocking. Everything is calculated, right down to the shifts of the employees. No bell rings to signal the completion of her twelve-hour lock shift. No machine shuts down, no motor hushes. The line workers are on an eight-hour rotation, and the current shift didn't come on'til eleven last night, so Ruth's departure does not even get market by a collective mobilization...Around her now the tow motors manoeuvre sluggishly lifting and conveying pallets of ware, their perpetual whistling pulses sounding haggard and sorrowful. But maybe it's just a projection of the state of her own self at the end of a four-day, forty-eight hour work week. (Hager-Cohen 1997:5) The state of the employees and the effects of this calculability are clearly defined from the quote above. From the hours of the workweek being set, to everything being controlled in the work environment, the employees are the ones that suffer. The effects of calculability make the employees ill and tired as they are subjected to this endless monotony of bureaucracy. Production is reduced to numbers and the employees have no choice but to follow this through or suffer the consequences. Some may say Ruth is not so much a victim of this calculability, that she lets it run her life. Although that may be, she has no choice in the matter, she must participate in it in order to survive. ...read more.


As we have seen the method of control is present in the work of Brent but manifests itself in different forms. Brent purchased this modern form of technology in order to keep up with the times and in return he is now controlled by it. Hagar-Cohen compares Brent's work as a lumberjack now to that of his Grampy Boyd and the differences of the generations present themselves in different forms when she states "Where once Grampy Boyd might've offered water and oats to his team of horses, then hitched them up for a day of forest work, Brent now perches on a tire, grooming as it were, this metal creature" (1997:121). The presence of the technology required now for Brent's work has replaced both the horses and hand saws. Has this method of control helped Brent? Perhaps in some ways, but not in others. But in all reality when the machine stops working he is still left in the same boat, without any method to cut down his trees. In Hagar-Cohen's book Glass, Paper, Beans, the presence of the four dimensions of McDonaldization: efficiency, calculability, predictability and control have clearly manifested themselves in the lives of the characters of Ruth and Brent. The two characters were clearly participants in the McDonaldization, and some would argue that they were even willing participants as both the characters have no choice but to participate in McDonaldization in order to survive. The dimensions of McDonaldization are not all bad and neither are their effects on us. As in the feiti�o we are either willing or unwilling participants in this process. We cannot stop McDonaldization; we can only slow its progress. The important thing to point out is that the majority of us are not aware that we are participating in McDonaldization and that is the worry. It is up to us to open our eyes to see how McDonaldization is manifesting itself in our own lives, so that we are not nameless cogs in its wheels of progress. ...read more.

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