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In the past, positions of authority were awarded to people simply because of who their parents were, or because they showed physical strength. Awarding control over a region, the right to take in taxes and the responsibility to do what is right for the citizens, to a man because he was able to kill a lot of other men is not rational, and yet many human societies did just that for a long time. George Ritzer’s McDonaldization Theory expands on Ritzer’s theory of Rationalization, breaking each task down until they are as small as they can possibly be. Then the optimum way of completing those tasks is determined and carried out. McDonaldization has roots in Taylorism and Fordism. Frederick Taylor conducted time and motion studies to find the fastest and most efficient way to complete simple tasks and then had the workers trained how to do it the same, efficient way every single time. Henry Ford used that approach in his factories and built the first mass-produced automobile. The division of labor, increased mechanization and large-scale coordination allowed Ford to decrease the price of their vehicles from $780 to $360 in four years.3Despite the fact the work was dehumanizing, the standardization of everything from auto parts and tools to the sequence of motions that the workers would use led to a cost-efficient operation that allowed Ford to turn a healthy profit. Ritzer points out that fast food restaurants now use a similar system, and McDonaldization is the “process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world.”4There are four principles of McDonaldization: Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability and Control.Efficiency is about finding the “best, quickest, or least difficult means to a given end,” which applies to both the business and the customer. For example, McDonald’s wants to find the cheapest, and fastest way to serve as many people as they possibly can and sell as many hamburgers as possible. In order to do that, they need to find the fastest and cheapest way to prepare and serve the hamburgers. They have broken it down to the exact number of hand movements that it should take to make a burger and have trained their workers to do it that way every single time. For the customer, efficiency means that the time it takes to consume a meal is significantly reduced. As Douglas Mann explains in Understanding Society, “If you can eat lunch in 10 minutes instead of waiting a half-hour for a chef prepared meal, you’re saved 20 minutes to
use in some other McDonaldized activity.”5Another manifestation of efficiency involves the business requiring customers to do work that paid employees would traditionally have done. Ritzer’s examples of this include a salad bar, where the customer pays for an empty plate and then makes his or her own salad. The restaurant saves money because they don’t have to pay anyone to make salads. It’s also more efficient for the customers because they don’t have