Fast Food Nation

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Unformatted text preview: rained workforce, the fast food industry seeks out part-time, unskilled workers who are willing to accept low pay. Teenagers have been the perfect candidates for these jobs, not only because they are less expensive to hire than adults, but also because their youthful inexperience makes them easier to control. The labor practices of the fast food industry have their origins in the assembly line systems adopted by American manufacturers in the early twentieth century. Business historian Alfred D. Chandler has argued that a high rate of “throughput” was the most important aspect of these mass production systems. A factory’s throughput is the speed and volume of its flow — a much more crucial measurement, according to Chandler, than the number of workers it employs or the value of its machinery. With innovative technology and the proper organization, a small number of workers can produce an enormous amount of goods cheaply. Throughput is all about increasing the speed of assembly, about doing things faster in order to make more. Although the McDonald brothers had never encountered the term “throughput” or studied “scientific management,” they instinctively grasped the underlying principles...
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