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foundation hyperamerican

foundation hyperamerican - VISIONS OF SOCIETY The...

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From the Journal of American Culture, V. 6, No. 1, 1983, pp. 100–107. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. 371 VISIONS OF SOCIETY: The Bureaucratization of Society 43 The McDonaldization of Society GEORGE RITZER The success of fast food chains is used by Ritzer as a metaphor for some general trends characterizing contemporary American society.We have become a nation driven by concerns for rationality, speed, and efficiency that are so well illustrated by the McDonalds’ style of operation. Food, packaging, and service are designed to move quickly and cheaply through and out of these restaurants, giving customers the most modern eating experience. Speed, convenience, and standardization have replaced the flair of design and creation in cooking, the comfort of relationships in serving, and the variety available in choice. McDonaldization has become so pervasive that one can travel to nearly any city or town in America and find familiar chain-style restaurants, shops, hotels, and other avenues for commercial exchange. This has fostered the homogenization of American culture and life, streamlined along a set of rational, efficient, and impersonal principles. How has the McDonaldization phenome- non affected your life? What types of commercial exchanges are affected by this process? What are the benefits of this for society? What are some of the detriments that you see? A wide-ranging process of rationalization is occurring across American soci- ety and is having an increasingly powerful impact in many other parts of the world. It encompasses such disparate phenomena as fast-food restau- rants,TV dinners, packaged tours, industrial robots, plea bargaining, and open- heart surgery on an assembly-line basis.As widespread and as important as these developments are, it is clear that we have barely begun a process that promises even more extraordinary changes (e.g. genetic engineering) in the years to come. We can think of rationalization as a historical process and rationality as the end result of that development.As a historical process, rationalization has distinctive roots in the western world.Writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the great German sociologist Max Weber saw his society as the center
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372 PART V SOCIAL CHANGE of the ongoing process of rationalization and the bureaucracy as its paradigm case.The model of rationalization, at least in contemporary America, is no longer the bureaucracy, but might be better thought of as the fast-food restaurant.As a result, our concern here is with what might be termed the “McDonaldization of Society.”While the fast-food restaurant is not the ultimate expression of rational- ity, it is the current exemplar for future developments in rationalization.
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