“McDonaldization affects not only the restaurant business, but also, education, work, healthcare, travel, leisure, dieting, politics, the family and virtually every other aspect of life.” – George Ritzer
McDonaldization’s Principles (image courtesy Thalia Torres Sociology Blog)
The success of Ray Kroc’s methodology, named McDonaldization after the restaurant chain Kroc built into the most powerful and successful food service company in the world, impressed, first McDonald’s competitors, then those in charge of other – not just industries, but other areas of human endeavor.
Wanting to be more efficient – and, hopefully, more effective – is not a bad goal in and of itself. Where this can go awry – and go awry it has – is when – as has happened in proof of Robert Merton’s law of unintended consequences – this principle is applied in cultural situations where its application makes no sense. Those other elements of McDonaldization – predictablility, calculability, and control – also play roles in moves toward efficiency. It is almost impossible – at least in a culture besotted with the ideas (and ideals) of capitalism for these unintended consequences not to occur.
When one enters a McDonald’s restaurant and orders a cheeseburger, a McDonald’s employee has been trained to know exactly how quickly that cheeseburger should be prepared and served and how much to charge the customer. The employee’s sole task becomes repeating the process that produced that cheeseburger and got it into the customer’s hands after getting the customer’s money – again and again and again and again and again.
If this sounds like it would be mind and soul numbing, that’s because it is. But it is also efficient, calculable, predictable, and easy to control. And it has brought McDonald’s enormous success and wealth. Continue reading