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The term Mcdonaldization was coined by George Ritzer in his book "The McDonaldization of Society" first published in 1993. The major elements of the book were taken from the Max Weber's work and were expanded and updated to produce a critical analysis of the impact social structural change has on human interaction and identity. In his book Ritzer asserts that McDonaldization occurs when a culture shows characteristics of a fast-food restaurant, which uses rational processes that can be easily measured.
The basis for Ritzer's work was set forth by in Max Weber's analysis of modern society that took the form of the process of Rationalization. The process of rationalization was determined by replacing traditional modes of thinking by means analysis that is concerned with efficiency and formal social control. The demonstration of this process was, according to Weber, in a large, formal organization characterized by a hierarchical authority structure, written rules and regulations, greater concern for technical competence and impersonality and defined as Bureaucracy. Bureaucracy and bureaucratic organization represented the direction of changing society and the process of rationalization as well as the structure of human interaction that leads to an increasingly rationalized world.
Similarly to Weber, Ritzer asserts further rationalization of the society that has features of a fast-food restaurant paradigm. According to Ritzer, fast-food restaurants in their socially structured form have become the major organizational force that represents rationalization and even extends it further to the real of everyday human interaction and identity. Due to the fact that McDonalds is the biggest chain of fast-food restaurants that uses rationalized process in its operations the author sets it forth "...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 of the rest of the world" (Ritzer, 1993:1).
The essence of McDonaldization is to substitute traditional illogical rules with logically consistent rules by means of rationalization. Ritzer identified four major dimensions of McDonaldization which are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control.
The optimal method for accomplishing a task is efficiency. However, Ritzer puts efficiency in a more specific meaning by equating the optimal method of accomplishing a task to the fastest method of getting from point A to point B. Considering McDonalds fast-food restaurants, efficiency means gearing every aspect of the organization with the aim to minimize time. Thus, efficiency of McDonalds is that it is the fastest way for the customers to get from being hungry to being full.
The processes also should be objective and measurable or quantifiable rather than subjective and non-measurable. Thus, appears the dimension of calculability, which inder McDonaldization equates quantity with quality meaning that a large amount of product delivered to the customer in a short period of time is pretty much the same as delivering product of high quality. Calculability dimension allows both organizations and customers to measure how much they get versus how much they pay for the products delivered. Organizations in they turn are in the zeal to make their customers believe that they get comparatively large quantity of a product for a little amount of money. However, organization judge and evaluate their workers based on the speed and amount of time to deliver the product to customers rather than on quality of work they do.
The dimension of predictability sets forth uniform standardized service in any place. Thus, in case of McDonalds fast-food restaurants predictability means that wherever a person goes in the world he/she can expect the same service and the same product when visiting any McDonalds restaurant. The same predictability is seen in case of workers of the organization as their tasks are standardized, highly repetitive, routine and, consequently, highly predictable.
The dimension of control suggests that processes are highly controlled technologically. The human labor is controlled with standardized uniform procedures. However, where it is possible human labor is substituted with non-human technologies that can be controlled even without human interruption.
The influence of McDonalds fast-food restaurants chains has been great not only on the fast-food industry in America, but also on the fast-food industry globally. McDonaldization has actually led to appearance of hundreds of McDonalds' clones in almost every segment of retail industry as well as other social organization that started to adapt the principles of McDonalds to their own operations. The process of McDonaldization is starting to become dominant in more and more sectors and segments of society and now extends to education, work, health care, dieting, traveling, leisure and many other aspects and fields of social life.
The first attempt to give a clear definition of to the term 'McDonaldization' was made by George Ritzer, who is known as one of the most widely popular authors of McDonaldization thesis. Compared to other approaches, I find approach of this author to be more salty and less nourishing as compared to approaches used by other people. The author has made a great contribution to the already present thought provoking anthology. When to analyze the issue I can say that Ritzer's entire theoretical antecedent is comprised of Max Weber's nineteenth century concept of rationalization. Weber also belongs to the list of researcher were concerned that the application of rationality in social organizations.
The first researcher who made a conceptual summary of "McDonaldization" issue was Ritzer (1996). In the course of his research, the researcher, actively used such terms as "efficiency," "calculability," "predictability," and "control." (The Future of Higher Education. 2003) According to researcher, the fast-food industry should be approached as an example of modern model. The same thing happens to global markets; rational scientific processes of production and management. A special emphasis in the process is put on producing proper "means of consumption" of standardized products.
The overall process can be categorized as the one that is associated with some extra baggage. This baggage is related to one singe term - McDonaldization. McDonaldization is a very complicated term. This term is used to mark the university function as something that is less analytical concept than other concepts.
McDonaldization has become popular across all territory of the state. The other important research revelation is that the majority of professors or administrators in academia are predominately those who teach in Britain and draw their examples from British universities. Recently, McDonaldization has penetrated further in the United Kingdom as compared to that of the U.S.
McDonaldization of Higher Education what raised a number of important issues, the majority of which will be summarized in mine research. A primary focus of this paper will be to analyze the issue of McDonaldization and to get academics that can be applied to the given term. According to present research, McDonaldization is the process by which the principles of fast food restaurants are coming to dominate more sectors of American Society as well as of the rest of the world. The term is also related to the education system and to the manner in which this system is supposed to work.
There are many ways to apply key concepts in higher education. The best way to apply these concepts in education is to define meaning of each particular concept. One of these concepts is the concept of 'efficiency'. There are many ways of viewing these two concepts. Traditionally, when we are using the word 'efficiency' we usually mean the process of restructuring of the university toward meeting market-defined goals of 'value'. () This concept is used to mark government funding that is directed towards meeting needs of students. The main thing about such kind of education is that it primarily views students as 'stakeholders'. (Kellner, D., 1998) The concept is also used in terms of the efficient 'production line' of graduates. This line is used to meet the ever-changing needs of capital, or the other 'challenges' posed by globalization. (The Future of Higher Education. 2003)
From the above mentioned explanation we can see that the concept of 'efficiency' may lead to instrumental rationality. The main feature of instrumental rationality is that it is able "to reduce university education and research to a 'calculable' formula of 'knowledge production'. (Lambert, R.,.2007) People are also encouraged to use the insipid management-speak term 'knowledge transfer." ( Ritzer, G., 2007) He given term can be used to mark a merely quantifiable known-sum that needs to be both 'transferred' and managed accordingly." (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html)
McDonaldization has a lot of its particular features. The most significant feature of McDonaldization is often associated with 'predictability' of the process. In order to prove my statement I will use an example taken from UK higher education. This example clearly shows "bureaucratic rationalization of teaching and research is often used to serve straightforwardly economic ends of our society." (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html) The given situation can be observed in such areas as education funding and subject areas. When to take a closer look at the issue we can see that modern education is constantly trying to attract corporate investment, and to put extra emphasis on 'transferable skills'. The term 'transferable' usually is used to mark the knowledge that can be easily transferred to students. (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html) The process of McDonaldization is also closely connected to the process of rationalization. (The McDonaldization of Society. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/010/mcdonsoc.html)
In the final outcome these two processes lead to the increasing loss of academic autonomy. McDonaldization also leads to 'the increasing loss of academic autonomy and bureaucratic 'performance assessment'. (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html)
In my perception performance assessments also much resembles the process of McDonaldization. This is largely so because this kind of assessment is directly linked to an institution's success and its ability to meet the demands of the so-called 'knowledge economy.' (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html)
McDonaldization was investigated by Ritzer, who elaborated a specific theory. By employing Ritzer's theory in this specific context we can easily find support for the given thesis. (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html) The given statement can be critically employed while cultivating human understanding of the major processes that take place in UK higher education. Also, the term can be used to give a proper definition of our society as a whole.
Interesting ideas regarding McDonaldization were once voiced by Clarke. During 2003 Charles Clarke prepared his own paper related to the issue. Charles Clarke is known for his belief in the value of thought for its own sake. In the course of his research Charles made an important remark that the purpose of UK higher education is more focused on wealth creation than on meeting real educational objectives. According to Charles Clarke, universities are more oriented at reaching the objective of wealth creation than on meeting any other objective. He researcher also pointed to the fact that the majority of universities both in UK and US are focused on meeting such objectives as re-skilling and re-education. Consequently, a conclusion can be made that universities more resemble re-skilling centers than any other organizations. The main purpose of such 'participation' is "achieving a relative upward re-skilling of the workforce" (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html).
When to summarize the very idea of McDonaldization, I can say that all ideas that are connected to the issue of McDonaldization are oriented towards producing a standardized white-collar product that might help people to get prepared to for 'the world of work'.
It seems that the whole system is designed to meet the needs of the executive-managerial class. There is also enough space to keep 'motivated' pool of 'knowledge' workers, who are aware of the shortage of worthwhile jobs. Also, now we have a long list of the ever-expanding number of jobs. (Illich, Ivan and Etienne Verne. 1976) In the major part of cases, these jobs require little or no efforts from the side of a person. As for a downward effect of de-skilling, the given process often requires people to implement a continual process of re-training, and 'learning'. These two processes serve to be the main guarantee of human survival in this world.
A common logic states that the university must provide a 'service' in which the student 'consumer' is able to measure the value of their 'investment'. The investment is often measured in quantifiable terms. It means that society is supposed to receive not only the quality but the quantity of education. The overall process is measured in RAE and QAA scores. These scores are related to the 'real world' financial pay-off, and usually help people to stay connected for a relatively short period of time. The value of education in this sense starts to be something that is perceived as instrumental. In this case, universities get a chance to improve their chances for survival (Lambert, Richard Inaugural Universities UK Speech delivered 11.12.2007).
The other important need for universities is to accept the need for "reform". The given task is oriented on meeting the original purpose toward training and honing the 'transferable' skills. () These skills are traditionally required by the 'knowledge economies' of advanced capitalism.
The given course is associated with a long list of the familiar and reactionary counter-arguments. These arguments are usually placed against the present so-called 'mass-production' of university education. The overall process often involves students and graduates and often leads to the increase in the number of students who are willing to adopt themselves to a very standardized system.
Now we come to the point of discussing the results brought by McDonaldization. According to insipid wisdom, "classical 'liberal education' can be embodied only in few institutions, like the hallowed portals of Oxbridge colleges." (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html). The rest of institutions located on the territory of US and UK show a tendency to practice a more 'forward thinking' and a more progressive approach to neoliberal strategy. This strategy stands behind New Labour's education policy. Initially, this strategy appeared to be progressive merely because it proposed 'change', or 'reform' to a whole process. According to research, the process occurred regardless of what this new type of education may actually entail. (Tom Larney. THE McDONALDIZATION OF INFORMATION. Retrieved from http://web.simmons.edu/~chen/nit/NIT'96/96-171-Larney.html)
At present, there is a whole list of ideological prescriptions. All these prescriptions use the argument that modern education must be either 'conservative' or regressive. In order to make you understand what these two terms actually mean I would like to refer to a traditional inaugural address to Universities UK. This speech was once voiced by CBI Director General Richard Lambert. Whilst complaining of the oversupply of graduates, this person made an important note that human skills and employability "should be seen as part of the return on the substantial public investment that is already made in the sector." (The McDonaldization of Higher Education?: Notes on the UK Experience http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/4_1/garland.html).
To summarize my ideas about McDonalidization I can say that there are many ways to see the process from inside. One of the most widely spread ways of seeing McDonalidization is to see that process as the tendency toward hyper-rationalization. When implemented the given process may lead people to introducing a whole list of important changes in education. The main research outcome is that the labor processes involved in advanced technological capitalism show a tendency to be increasingly depend on how people are approaching the process of information gathering, or service provision. These two services often require instrumentalized forms of communication and interaction. The above mentioned tendencies bring significant changes into the nature of modern education changing it into something different and more adequate.