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Unformatted text preview: ”While the fast-food restaurant is not the ultimate expression of rationality, it is the current exemplar for future developments in rationalization.
A society characterized by rationality is one which emphasizes efficiency, predictability, calculability, substitution of nonhuman for human technology, and control over uncertainty. In discussing the various dimensions of rationalization, we
will be little concerned with the gains already made, and yet to be realized, by
greater rationalization.These advantages are widely discussed in schools and in
the mass media. In fact, we are in danger of being seduced by the innumerable
advantages already offered, and promised in the future, by rationalization.The
glitter of these accomplishments and promises has served to distract most people
from the grave dangers posed by progressive rationalization. In other words, we
are ultimately concerned here with the irrational consequences that often flow
from rational systems.Thus, the second major theme of this essay might be termed
“the irrationality of rationality.” . . . EFFICIENCY The process of rationalization leads to a society in which a great deal of emphasis
is placed on finding the best or optimum means to any given end.Whatever a
group of people define as an end, and everything they so define, is to be pursued
by attempting to find the best means to achieve the end.Thus, in the Germany of
Weber’s day, the bureaucracy was seen as the most efficient means of handling a
wide array of administrative tasks. Somewhat later, the Nazis came to develop the
concentration camp, its ovens, and other devices as the optimum method of collecting and murdering millions of Jews and other people. The efficiency that
Weber described in turn-of-the-century Germany, and which later came to characterize many Nazi activities, has become a basic principle of life in virtually
every sector of a rational society.
The modern American family, often with two wage earners, has little time to
prepare elaborate meals. For the relatively few who still cook such meals, there is
likely to be great reliance on cookbooks that make cooking from scratch much
more efficient. However, such cooking is relatively rare today. Most families take
as their objective quickly and easily prepared meals.To this end, much use is made
of prepackaged meals and frozen TV dinners.
For many modern families, the TV dinner is no longer efficient enough.To
many people, eating out, particularly in a fast-food restaurant, is a far more efficient way of obtaining their meals. Fast-food restaurants capitalize on this by
being organized so that diners are fed as efficiently as...
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- Fall '13