English and Literature
Submitted By mjnj41
If you have ever had a meal in a restaurant (fast-food / formal dining), used an ATM in a bank, spent your vacation at an amusement park or simply browsed through a mall, you have been exposed to McDonaldization. McDonaldization is, “the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more parts of America’s society as well as the rest of the world” (Ritzer). Nearly all aspects of today's society have become more standardized because of McDonaldization including health care, the restaurant business, and higher education.
Despite its name, McDonaldization refers to a phenomena that reach back past McDonald’s method of fast food all the way to Henry Ford’s assembly line. This introduction of a form of production focused on efficiency is a process that would change the relationship between producers and consumers forever. In other words, the Ford’s assembly line opened the door for consumers to create more effective and logical means of production to gain more with minimum cost. An ideal McDonalized model will be efficient, calculable, predictable, and controlled (Ritzer).
Efficiency is reached by determining the best, most rational way to do something. Once this method is selected, many workers will not have any other choice in how this task is performed. Each part of the assembly line is very structured.
Calculability in McDonaldization refers to the striving of businesses to achieve the greatest sales. This quantitative perception of success takes away from the subjective side of production and consumption. A common example of this is that a restaurant will produce more of a product that will sell rather than a product that is better in quality.
Because the system of production is so structured, predictability is achieved. This is extremely important for those relying on sales data and projections to guide their business model. In a McDonalized world, predictability is a necessity for growth.
In this highly rationalized model, control is essential. This means to take out the questionable elements, such as human unpredictability or chance. To do this, McDonalized models will replace simple tasks with more reliable mechanisms that perform their duty more predictably. For example, many wage workers now rely on a computer or system that, while making their job much easier and repetitive, deskills the worker and makes the job easy enough to have several replacements at any given time. ATMs are a prime example of this as a teller is replaced by a machine (Ritzer).
While each of these qualities seem good for business and logical in achieving success in American society, each quality of McDonaldization can have highly negative, unseen effects on consumers and producers. Effects like a deskilled workforce, irrationalities like a burnt out workforce, and the alienation of people from their work are all negative qualities of an increasingly quantitative and efficiency-minded production force.
Healthcare in America has become much more business-oriented because of McDonaldization. By streamlining the process of managing people’s health, patients are now being sent through an impersonal assembly line of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other professionals, who each perform their own specialized duty (NP Odyssey). This differs from the pre-McDonaldized method of one professional overseeing all or most of a patient’s needs. It is evident that today’s efficiency-oriented process is much less personal, as even the patient’s physician knows only what he reads in the records instead of overseeing all of one’s health related qualities. Even though customer service and patient-doctor relationships suffer greatly by a McDonalized healthcare system, it does have benefits. Doctors and other medical professionals are able to perform their duty for a higher number of patients, adding to the hospital’s quantitative success rate (NP Odyssey).Arguably, the consequences of a highly negative, subjective patient experiences indicate the failure of McDonalized hospitals. Impersonal treatment of an over rationalized system can make the patient feel uncomfortable and possibly even afraid to reach out for treatment. The assembly line system, while saving time for doctors and other professionals, can take hours more for the patient, being referred from one person to the next for simple processes. Finally, McDonalized hospitals rely increasingly more on professionals specializing in one or few medical tasks. This heavy reliance on specialists can be extremely costly for the patient as they must purchase the services of different specialists instead of their personal physician.
Aside from fast food, the success of the McDonald's model has spread to restaurants of all types. For example, Little Caesar’s is becoming ever more popular, with increased television advertising and newfound dominance over the pizza domain. Consumers are attracted to its quick, efficient accessibility and are willing to become consumer workers by taking out the act of delivering the pizza. Consumers act as their own delivery men and women by coming in, paying, and taking the product themselves. This sort of control is ideal for a McDonalized system. Consumer workers replace those who would have been paid to deliver. This production system is focused on cost-saving efficiency.
Higher education is McDonalized and treated as an investment to the consumer, or student, for a higher paying job (Wong). Student and professor experiences increasingly follow the ideal McDonalized model in that tests, assignments, and other items are commonly being controlled through mechanical means such as scantron and online tests, as well as online mediums to assign and submit projects and other assignments (Wong). In fact, it is an option now to take classes online, usually removing the quality from education, but adding the control of the online mechanism and effectiveness of an easy way to get the grade. In addition, instead of judging graduates on their own experiences and knowledge, it is common for employers to quantify their academic experiences by looking only at their grades. While this may be irrational in that a more qualified individual may be overlooked, it is a quicker and more efficient way of selecting a candidate for the job.
In conclusion, the effects of McDonaldization reach far beyond fast food, influencing nearly all aspects of American society. While it is highly rational and efficient, several irrationalities and negative consequences result from this model of business. It is important that consumers and producers become aware of this highly influential force in our society to help make production and consumption in America a more beneficial model for not only the economy, but also the individuals in the workforce.…...