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Critical Appreciation on George Ritzer's "The McDonaldization of Society."

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Introduction

SOC 244: 20th Century Social Theory Critical Appreciation on George Ritzer's "The McDonaldization of Society." Introduction The study that I am evaluating is Ritzer's New Century Edition of The McDonaldization of Society (2000). Ritzer 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 the rest of the world." He applies Max Weber's theory of rationalisation to the processes of McDonaldization, using the McDonalds restaurant chain as a paradigm for the problematic aspects of our contemporary world. George Ritzer, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and named Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, has served as Chair of the American Association's Sections on Theoretical Sociology and Organisations and Occupations. His main areas of interest are sociological theory and the sociology of work. His main theoretical interests lie in metatheory as well as in the theory of rationalisation. The study in question is Ritzer's famous "The McDonaldization of Society" - an empirical study demonstrating the globalisation of McDonaldization - the phenomenally successful McDonalds restaurant chain being used as a metaphor for the problems we face in our contemporary world. ...read more.

Middle

Weber has also been accused of being pessimistic over the prospect of the human future, more so than any of his contemporaries. Marx saw an upcoming revolution, whereas Weber's prognosis was grim, determining that only the emergence of a charismatic figure could provide an antidote for such a dismal outlook. Ritzer's critique of McDonaldization criticizes the increase in the contemporary world of standardised sameness and homogenisation, and the decline of individuality, diversity and multiple taste cultures. Ritzer seems to assume that McDonald's is unavoidably and relentlessly homogenising the world, destroying individuality and diversity. McDonalds has now blended into an already heterogeneous urban landscape. In areas such as Hong Kong and Britain, the transnational is now the local. Seven of the world's ten busiest McDonalds restaurants are located in Hong Kong, the epicentre of Cantonese culture and cuisine. Are food chains helping to create a homogeneous, "global" culture better suited to the demands of a capitalist world order? Ritzer argues that McDonaldization has four dimensions which account for its phenomenal success. One of these is efficiency, for example, McDonalds offers the quickest available way to get from being hungry to being full. ...read more.

Conclusion

His critical analysis sheds light on the dehumanising and irrational sides of McDonaldization and encourages us to embark on our own critique and consider forms of resistance and alternatives. Ritzer primarily focuses on the event from the vantage point of the Weberian theory of rationalisation, however, adding other perspectives may add to a fuller understanding of the phenomenon. Ritzer's own critics do not outline specific social alternatives, yet Rinehart (1998) believes that Ritzer's approach is too individualistic and fails to express collective responses to McDonaldization. Ritzer challenges the reader to consider precisely what form of society, values, and practices we desire. There is no question that McDonaldization is here to stay and that we need to decide how social rationalisation can serve individual and social needs and what sort of alternative we need to McDonaldization. The social dynamics of McDonaldization are extremely hard to evaluate, and Ritzer leaves us with the challenge to determine which forms of McDonaldization are positive and beneficial and which are harmful and destructive. Ritzer has essentially begun most contemporary discussion into the problems of McDonaldization, however in the future; another term will be needed to explain a more rationalised society where McDonalds is no longer be an ideal concept. Si´┐Żn Thomas 1 ...read more.

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