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McDonaldization of Society

McDonald is a globally renowned fast food restaurant. The term McDonaldization was introduced by sociologist George Ritzer. He published a book entitled The McDonaldization of Society, in which he tries to describe the concept of the change in society that starts to replicate a fast food culture. Fast foods cook faster and are often readily available. Therefore, George Ritzer discusses his observation of the various elements of the society that are similar to the culture of fast foods.

He correlates the significant principles of fast foods with the American society and the other parts of the world. George Ritzer represents the rationalization of the society towards a situation when any kind of activity becomes easier and faster. The restaurant is therefore used as a case model to present the argument. This paper explores the dynamics of McDonaldization of the community, its effect, and future impacts on the society.

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Principles of McDonaldization

McDonaldization of the society is a term used to present the fact that the central principles of fast food restaurants are more and more becoming evident in other sectors of the American and world society. In essence, these central ideologies include control, human replacement, culture and efficiency, predictability and calculability, etc. Other industries such as bookstores, educational institutions, childcare, and newspapers are adopting these fast-food principles by embracing technology. George Ritzer describes various features that characterize the fast food industry and develop in other parts of the society. They include the principles of control and replacement of humans by non-human technology.

This age is characterized by numerous technological revolutions. Different technologies appear and make the human effort be in less demand. This replacement has resulted in a system, in which everything is automatically managed, and the employee does not think anymore but just presses the buttons. An example of it is modern piloting, because nowadays pilots act just as overseers. This model is similar to the fast food restaurant business model, because less effort is used to produce food. Therefore the extent of human thinking and the amount of work people can do is controlled. Once the McDonalds restaurant enters the market of a country, the consumption culture of the people begins to be westernized. Culture hybridization entails the integration and emulation of the western culture. Consequently, most traditional values of other communities are dercreased, and this is also a form of control.

Another principle that George Ritzer uses as evidence that the society is getting McDonaldization is the culture of efficiency. Efficiency in its essence involves delivering service at the shortest possible time. Most businesses seek efficiency as a tool for attracting customers. Examples include Microwave dinners, salad bars, ATMs, self-service soda fountains, and gasoline. This culture of efficiency reflects the nature of fast foods, whereby a large amount of food is made available in a short period, so that the masses of people can continuously purchase it.  The customers also get full within a shorter time. Efficiency involves the aspect of achieving a goal at the minimum possible time. The value of time has superseded the value of quality.

The third principle that has resulted from the culture of fast foods is the necessity of predictability in the today’s world. Nowadays everybody wants to be able to know in advance what to expect in future. Governments, schools, businesses, and individuals want to be capable of predicting how the future will evolve. People do not take risks to explore the future on their own. Instead, individuals live as if they were auto-piloted and had their life steps already predetermined. Sociologist Ritzer explains it by stating that customers want to be sure that the experience they get in McDonalds in New York will be as satisfactory as it is in Texas. Life is calculated, and its elements are similar to business models of fast food restaurants. There is a sense of people who live in a 'safety mode'.  Even the employees at the Macdonald restaurants have tasks, which are highly predictable, routine, and repetitive.

The fourth principle of McDonaldization is calculability. This principle is drawn from the quantity principle of fast food chains, and according to it, quantity surpasses quality. Fast food restaurants follow a belief that a larger amount of food that is served to a customer within a short period can equate to a high-quality product. Today people do not focus so much on choice, but rather prefer to focus on how much they pay for the quantity that they receive. The employees at fast food restaurants are graded on the quantity of food they can produce rather than on its quality Zaman et al.

The History of McDonaldization

The history of McDonaldization is traced back to the early 19th century. Macdonald’s restaurant is just a reflection of a rationalization that has already happened and that has a potential of growing more. Many factors contributed to the society rationalization according to a fast food principle of life. The introduction of major technologies in the early half of the 19th century was a major contribution to this culture. In 1840s technology began to replace the essence of human effort in various industries that led to the introduction of control. The world in this century embraced technological innovations that people were trying to invent for a long period of time. It is important to note that at this point the degree of the fast food culture was considerably lower as compared to the current culture. The more advanced technologies have appeared, the more men have embraced the fast food culture. Hard economic times in the 19th century also contributed highly to McDonaldization of the society. At that point, strict retrenchment was taking place, because American economy was still partly capitalist.

As a result, there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Due to the calculability aspect of McDonaldization, middle and lower classes gave preference to quantity over quality. Most fast food restaurants started to appear during the second half of the 19th century. In a way, they resulted from a demand of people, who needed more products within a shorter time and for a smaller amount of money. The McDonalds restaurants expanded to have several outlets in the early 1990s. When sociologist George Reitz was writing The McDonaldization of the society in 1993, he had observed its development over time and predicted its potential impacts in future Zaman et al.

Advantages of McDonaldization

Each period of rationalization has impact on the society. The consequences of McDonaldization for the community are both positive and negative. On the one hand, this culture has provided efficiency that has changed the lifestyle of many Americans and other people all over the world.. Efficiency has resulted in faster and easier services delivery to people. Efficiency is productive, because people do not have to wait in long queues for services. It also allows individuals to save necessary time to do other things. For example, lunch breaks at work are often quite short, so getting to a place where one can receive quick service is quite convenient. There is also much availability of goods and services, as it is less dependant on geographical location or time. People do not have to go for long distances in order to find what they need, as well as they do not need to wait Zaman et al.

McDonaldization has also provided the availability of many economical alternatives to the customized high priced goods. Therefore, people are able to afford some products and services that they could not buy before. Access to goods and services at any time has been made possible by McDonaldization. For example, people are now able to inquire for bank balances in the middle of the night. McDonaldization has introduced a certain level of equality.

People are now treated more equally than before. Some machines are self-service oriented, so individuals just operate them on their own on a 'first come, first served' basis. In the past when clients relied on employees to serve them, there were cases of separation and social injustice, because very often those who were influential and came from rich classes received quick and preferential services. Globalization is spread along with McDonaldization, as the entire world is moving towards a single culture. Therefore, it is much easier to share valuable information than it was before Zaman et al.

Negative Impact of McDonaldization

Regardless of the above-described advantages, McDonaldization has considerable negative  effects on the society. First, it removes the learning experience and the employee’s responsibility in managing a task. It is vital to note that while McDonaldization promotes efficiency, it uses means that do not give the staff an opportunity to perform a task skillfully. Moreover, the search for an easy mechanism of accomplishing everything makes it a wide-spread trend. However, one cannot evade the role of experience in enhancing the responsibility of the staff. Thus, McDonaldization replaces human beings with technology. The society has come to a point when there is a need for technology in the accomplishment tasks. One surprising fact is that people even seek to create robots that can work as nannies at their homes.

The aim is to reduce the cost and the reliability of nannies. The replacement of humans with technology negatively impacts the society. First, it leads to the loss of jobs among many people. It happens, because the society is diverse, so everyone cannot settle for office jobs. There are those people, who prefer to be farmers, mechanics, and even operators. The availability of machinery that is used to address these needs means that such individuals remain unemployed. While the majority of the society may praise the benefits of technological advancement, there is a group of people that will encounter difficulties because of a lack of job. Moreover, the trend is likely to undermine physical relationships between people. An evident example of it is the emergence of mobile phones and social networking platforms. Before their discovery, people valued face to face communication. They used to spend their valuable time on meeting friends and sharing information about their daily lives. It was usual for relatives and friends to visit one another.

However , the trend has greatly changed. Currently, people chat through Facebook or WhatsApp. They rarely take the time to communicate to one another in person. The pattern has made people very casual in their connections, and the bonds of friendship are not very strong. Moreover, immoral acts towards each other have increased rapidly. Evidently, while McDonaldization improved the efficiency of communication, it continues to destroy the stability of relationships.

McDonaldization has a destructive impact on the education sector. Traditionally the aim of education was to create thinkers and to rear individuals, who can revolutionize the society with their perspectives. Consequently, the transfer and attainment of knowledge has been seen as a rigorous process that enabled students to gain the knowledge. However, McDonaldization in higher institutions has replaced educators, who initially did the paperwork with computers that enhanced effectiveness. Massive Online Courses introduced the creation of virtual students and denied the efforts of the educators to encourage the creativity of learners. Online teaching will lead to the appearance of inadequate labor force on the job market.

The graduates of such courses are a threat to the future innovations and inventions due to the fact that they lack creative skills. McDonaldization advocates for irrationality, so it means that bureaucracy is likely to worsen, and it will create unfavorable conditions for human beings, who live in the society.  The study shows that incapable and inadequate citizens as well as human beings in general are likely to appear due to McDonaldization in the modern world. There is evidence of too excessive economic activity in monetary perspective that may result in low and poor work within the society in future. According to research, McDonaldization has eventually generated unpredictable human resources for the market labor forces.  It also portrays the idea of less or non-manageable human beings and the consequences it causes or is likely to cause.

How Will McDonaldization Impact the Future Generations?

Despite many benefits that emanate from McDonaldization, there is a likelihood that it will eventually lead to a total destruction of the society. It is vital to consider the economic, social, and even political aspects of the society. While it seeks to promote efficiency, it will lead to the loss of jobs. Consequently, many people will remain without adequate income. Moreover, the acquisition of the machines will not be affordable for the low income earners. The gap between the rich and the poor will increase. Moreover, McDonaldization will erode family relations. One of the reasons why people have still remained intact is the need for one another. However, the elimination of this aspect will enhance the level of individualism. For example, the availability of a robotic nanny will end interpersonal relationships in the family sphere. The impact of it is already noticeable at the present times. People rarely visit one another. They assume that Facebook chats and texting is enough to sustain a relationship. As far as politics is concerned, McDonaldization will eliminate the democracy of the public in choosing their leaders. People will have limited contacts with the candidates, so that they will vote for the person, who in their view is better, judging from the trending posts in Facebook or Twitter. While it may look impossible now, it is the direction, towards which the society is moving. The future generation is at a great risk of losing all the moral standards and traditions that have been cultivated during the previous centuries.

McDonaldization: Shun or Embrace

McDonaldization is evidently a concept that the society should shun. In essence, it has widely integrated into the western or modern society due to its scienftic and technological nature. According to history, it is based on the unpredictability of a product, service, or a person. The hired personnel is seen to be more competent without an external force, exerted on it. Consequently, the originality of McDonaldization has been gradually lost. Rational Model of McDonald’s modification proves that cultural selections reduction is evident, due to the fact that modification has changed the initial intention of the author. Americans believe that McDonaldization accounts for the erosion of values in the society. Similarly, scientific manipulations of some explicit products in the United States might be influenced by it. McDonald Model has been rated as one of the factors of globalization in the world. Moreover, widespread advertisements have repackaged some almost disappearing products in order to make them appear again. Living without the concept of McDonaldization can be tricky, but it can provide room for sincerity and the ability to be innovative as well as creative. According to this research McDonaldization is important for the dynamics of the modern world. Some of its aspects are appealing to the humanity, even though several phenomena have been subjectedto its negative impacts. Therefore, it should be embraced by the society, but with some restrictions, because otherwise it can cause great havoc at present and in future.


In conclusion, McDonaldization has spread around the world in many spheres of life. There are several negative issues associated with this model. The limitations include, for instance, irrationalism, health and environmental perils, unacceptable human connections, and forced or unwilling voluntarism. Despite all these facts, established businesses still embrace its practices. It manipulates the world and greatly impacts the social media. A study shows that people, who apply this practice, can be hardly convinced to change their policy. It happens because such individuals ignore the limitations of the model and focus on its benefits and strengths. It is evident that a large number of people are against it, but it is still attractive for the others.

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