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Critically examine Ritzer's theory of "The Mcdonaldization of Society" giving relevant examples.

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Introduction

Critically examine Ritzer's theory of "The Mcdonaldization of Society" giving relevant examples. In 1993 George Ritzer first published his first edition of "The Mcdonaldization of society". In principal it drew on the works of Weber and Mannheim, in the rationalisation of modern society, but brought stark examples of this happening in today's society. He uses the analogy that like fast food chain Macdonald's ,where everything is standardised, controlled, calculable, predicable and efficient, society is taking on these values and slowly rationalising society hence the term "Mcdonaldization" . I will critically evaluate this theory put forward by Ritzer. Firstly it is important to define what Ritzer means by Mcdonaldization, in his book1 he states that he uses McDonalds restaurants as a paradigm for the process of the modern rationalisation, hence the term Mcdonaldization. It involves the increase in efficiency, calculability, predictability and control via the increased use of non-human technology. He admits this has advantages but also many important drawbacks including homogeneity, dehumanisation of society. It is these irrationalities of rationality's that Ritzer sees at the heart of Mcdonaldization. It is the four principal areas of Mcdonaldization Efficiency, Control, predictability and calcubility Weber thought that socialism would rationalise society forming an iron-cage2 of regulation which people could not escape, so he sided with capitalism because he thought it would only rationalise bit by bit and this would make it easier for people to escape the "cage". ...read more.

Middle

I fully agree with this point and was characterised when recently William Hague recently said any conservative policy must be able to be summed up in on six words or less. This obsession with calculability is weakening our society and not allowing for independent thought. Predictability is the next area of Mcdonaldization we are suffering from according to Ritzer. Mcdonaldization seeks to make all areas of society predictable, so that no surprises exist in life and everything can be planned for. He sites the example of Motel's and again McDonalds and criticises them for being predictable in their layout, facilities, menu, and service. Even right down to scripts that employees use for interaction with customers. But this is what customers want, they don't want to go into a restaurant and not know if there will be baby changing facilities, seating, drive through or a certain type of food. They want to know in advance so they can the make the decision of where to go. I have personally experienced the scripts of McDonalds and I have come to the conclusion that they don't exist to the extent which Ritzer states. I have friends who work in McDonalds restaurants and although they are taught what to say to difficult customers and how to greet them etc, but they are simply not stuck to and managers don't enforce this. ...read more.

Conclusion

This idea is strange for most Europeans as most have a different relationship with food, taking hours to prepare meals and to socialise while eating is considered the norm. Recently McDonalds in Italy has been the subject of many attacks against it's American values and supposed imperialism, on October 16th known as anti-McDonalds day there were 4255 protests and pickets in 347 towns in 23 countries. This clearly shows the Mcdonaldization of other countries is very difficult. Europeans look at the US very critically and see the faults of Mcdonaldization and the problems it has brought and I think it is learning from those problems. Laws to do with customer confidentiality, advertising and companies activities are much stricter in Europe, for example advertising aimed at children is illegal in Sweden, clear a barriers to Mcdonaldization exist like this much more in Europe, mainly to do with the states role in society. In conclusion it can be said that the rationalisation of society like Ritzer suggests is rampant and self-rationalisation is also occurring, but to blame a fast food industry for the problem is too easy and we must look at politics and culture for the true source. 1 "The Mcdonaldization Thesis" G. Ritzer 1997 Sage Publications. 2 "Economy and Society" Max Weber 1968 Bedminster Press 3 "Ideology and Utopia" Karl Mannheim 1936 Harcourt, Brace and World 4 "Expressing America: A critique of the global credit card society" G. Ritzer 1995 Pineforge Press 5 "http://www.ecn.org/freedom/FIN/mac.html" ...read more.

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