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McDonaliztion and Its Four Core Concepts of Efficiency, Calculability, Predictability, and Control

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George Ritzer describes McDonaldization as “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”. McDonaldization is the idea that our society is becoming more efficient and more fast paced. Rational systems can be defined as “unreasonable, dehumanizing systems that deny the humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within them or are served by them”. Today there are many types of businesses that are increasingly adapting the same values and principles of the fast-food industry to their needs

Rational systems are dehumanizing our society and seem to be even more irrational than convenient.

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According to Ritzer, the McDonaldization of society is a phenomenon that occurs when society, its institutions, and its organizations are adapted to have the same characteristics that are found in fast-food chains. These include efficiency, calculability, predictability and standardization, and control. Ritzer's theory of McDonaldization is an update on classical sociologist Max Weber's theory of how scientific rationality produced bureaucracy, which became the central organizing force of modern societies through much of the twentieth century

According to Weber, the modern bureaucracy was defined by hierarchical roles, compartmentalized knowledge and roles, a perceived merit-based system of employment and advancement, and the legal-rationality authority of the rule of law. These characteristics could be observed (and still can be) throughout many aspects of societies around the world. According to Ritzer, changes within science, economy, and culture have shifted societies away from Weber's bureaucracy to a new social structure and order that he calls McDonaldization. As he explains in his book of the same name, this new economic and social order is defined by four key aspects.

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Although there have been many benefits and conveniences that are related to this process of McDonaldization: variety, round-the-clock banking and shopping, and often speedier service; there is a certain sense that these rational systems tend to turn in on themselves, to lead to irrational outcomes

"Most specifically, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that I mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them." (Ritzer 1994:154) The lines at the fast-food restaurants can be very long, and waiting to get through the drive-thru can even take longer than going inside. These rational system don't save us money; we might spend less, but we do more work. The food we eat is often less nourishing, loaded with stabilizers and flavor enhancers, fats, salt and sugar. This contributes to the health problems of our society, a definitely "antihuman" component. As our children grow up within these systems, they develop habits which insure our increasing dependency upon the systems. The packaging used in fast food industry pollutes the environment. And the family: part of its solidarity and integrity was centered around the family meal: The communal meal is our primary ritual for encouraging the family to gather together every day. If it is lost to us, we shall have to invent new ways to be a family. It is worth considering whether the shared joy that food can provide is worth giving up. (Visser, 1989:42; in Ritzer, 1994:156) Microwavable foods and fast-food restaurants allow us to eat what we want, when we want it. The ritual of cooking, eating together, and sharing is fading from the American family. Two final problems are worth noting. How long will it be before these rational systems evolve beyond the control of people. How much of our lives are already subject to their influence and control. What happens when the people who control the systems succumb to being controlled?

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Altogether, doctors no longer take the time to personally get to know and interact with their patients. Aspects of society has caused doctors to follow a specific script which is provided online to ensure that all patients are receiving equal attention rather than the amount of attention and time their medical condition may require

McDonaldization is continually making its way into more aspects of healthcare. We as citizens must voice our opinions to fight for the healthcare we deserve.

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Sociological Beginnings: On the Origins of Key Ideas in Sociology, McGraw-Hill, 1994.

The McDonaldization of Society, Pine Forge Press, 1993.

"A Meditation on the Microwave," Psychology Today, December 1989, pp. 38ff.

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