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Analytical Review Paper - Book Report/Review Example

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The McDonaldization theses: is expansion inevitable? By George Ritzer McDonaldization thesis, rooted in Weber’s theory of rationalization, states the fast-food restaurant model as the paradigm of the rationalization process currently undergoing contemporary world societies…
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Download file to see previous pages According to the author, the powerful role that McDonald’s is playing in the expansion of the process of rationalization permits us to call the very manifestations of the process, “McDonaldization”. Ritzer identifies five core features of McDonaldization: efficiency, calculability, predictability, control –especially the one that is originated in non-human technologies- and the irrationalities of rationality. Efficiency is defined as “the best possible means to whatever end is desired” (Ritzer 2), and is reflected, for example, upon the way in which customers and employees behave themselves in the fast-food restaurant environment. Food is cooked in an assembly-line, customers are expected to ear quickly and leave, while employees are required to work efficiently. Efficiency is also strongly associated with the second basic dimension of the phenomenon, calculability, which, according to the author, strongly implies a preference on quantity over quality. A third feature mentioned by Ritzer is predictability; certain rituals that must be respected in the fast-food restaurant, and actions by the participants involved are determined in a predictable manner: customers are expected to order, pay and eat quickly, while employees will handle customers in a previously arranged way, and products are expected to be standardized, always the same. The whole process is subjected to a great control, which is the fourth characteristic of a McDonaldizing society, this control being originated in the use of non-human technologies, which both guide and constrain people’s actions. Ritzer exemplifies control in the automatic fry machine, which lifts fries out of the oil at a specific (and predetermined) time, restricting the customer’s choice on how they like their food. Finally, the fifth feature of McDonaldization is addressed by Ritzer as the “irrationalities or rationality”, suggesting that irrational principles inexorably accompany the rationalized process, particularly in the form of dehumanization: “Employees are forced to work in dehumanizing jobs and customers are forced to eat in dehumanizing settings and circumstances” (3). McDonaldization thesis implies, as first stated, that the rationalization process stretches beyond fast-food restaurants and other businesses, influencing the way in which we lead our lives, even up to the practices surrounding the beginning and ending of life. On these grounds, McDonaldization enters our homes and interpersonal relationships, changing the way in which we dine (with frozen and delivery food settling as common eating habits in the household), rationalizing sex practices, etc. Ritzer highlights how even the process of birth has been heavily controlled and standardized by clinics and medical tests and procedures, as well as being determined by tools and technologies. Also, on the other end of life’s cycle, the same control arises in the practices surrounding death: death being increasingly handled by medical staff and hospitals, the rational (and statistical) treatment of the patient, and the expansion of chains of funeral homes. The powerful control and rationalization over the birth process is vividly portrayed in the documentary “The business of being born” by Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake. The film suggests that, far from treating birth as a natural process, contemporary medicine is always prepared to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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