In today’s’ complicated and ever changing society, we often try to achieve a sense of stability and familiarity around us. One way our culture has tried to make life a little easier is by implementing a function now know as “McDonaldization”. McDonaldization is defined 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.
” (1) The success of McDonalds, and of McDonaldization as a whole, is due to four basic factors–efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control.One of the first functions of McDonaldization is efficiency. Efficiency means choosing the optimum means to an given end. In our society, people like to have things go as quickly and as smoothly as possible, but they do not want to find out the fastest waythemselves. Instead, people like to have a system that has already been used and that theyknow works. Efficiency has its advantages for both consumers, who get what they wantquickly and with little effort, and for workers, who can perform their tasks in a simplemanner. The fast food industry is very streamlined, because hamburgers are the simplestfood there is to make.
Other foods also do not need a lot of ingredients, and they aresimple to make and to eat. Most of the food is also prepared so one can eat it with theirhands, thereby reducing the need for utensils. In the process of McDonaldization,consumers are forced to do a good deal of work as well. They have to stand on line,carry their own food, and throw out the garbage. This is not as efficient for theconsumer, but it saves time for the workers. Education, health care, and the work placeare all becoming McDonaldalized in order to become more efficient. Efficiency inMcDonaldization has streamlined many processes, simplified goods and services, andforces the consumer to do work as well.Another factor of McDonaldization is calculability.
This tends to put more of anemphasis on quantity rather than quality, but it allows the consumer to get a lot of foodquickly. When things are easily counted, it facilitates the process by making it morepredictable by using the same amount of materials. Part of McDonalds is an emphasis onsize. Everything is “super sized,” or have names that make food items seem larger thanthey actually are.
Calculability, however, also leads to the quality of the food beingneglected. Because people feel as if they are getting a lot of food for their money, theyare not as worried about how good it tastes. Food is always weighed and measuredprecisely, which is another part of calculability. All burgers weigh the same amount, thereare the same number of fries in each container, and the new drink machines dispense thesame amount to each cup. This same theory is seen in our education system. Studentsare herded through, and no one really pays much attention to what or how they arelearning, just that they receive high grades so they can get into a good college. Healthcare has also seen the impact of these, because now patients are mainly treated just tosqueeze some money out of them, and doctors seemingly don’t truly care about theirpatients anymore.
Calculability basically reduces the quality of goods, but improves theThe third function of McDonaldization is predictability. In our society, peopleusually want to know exactly what to expect from a given situation. Predictability givesthe consumer a break from having to make difficult decisions, and the worker can performtheir task with little effort.
The needs of everyone become easily anticipated. One of thefirst places predictability became common was with motel chains. Before motels becamefranchised, guests didn’t know exactly what they would be getting, for the good or thebad.
But then hotels such as Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson’s started, and guests knewexactly what they were going to get when they stayed there. This new practice wascopied in the food industry, namely by McDonalds. First, they started with a large andnoticeable sign, that could be easily recognized. People from around the world now knowthe McDonalds symbol is a giant yellow “M”. Something else that is predictable is theway employees are forced to interact with customers. Employees have a set script thatthey must follow, and this gives them some control over their customers. Their work isalso done in the same manner, for example, the hamburgers all must be cooked the exactsame way for the same amount of time.
They also must dress and act in a certain way.Customers themselves behave predictably in fast food restaurants, as they get their food,carry it to their table, eat, clean their trash, and leave. Now everyone knows this is theway one must act in a fast food restaurant. The food itself is predictable as well, andthere are not many choices in fast food restaurants. It is basically the same from foodchain to food chain.
Predictability is also found in other institutions, such as in education. Professors usually stand in the front of the class, near a blackboard while they lecture. Most colleges offer the same type of classes, and even testing is similar, if multiple choicetests are used. Health care as well is based on a series of rules, regulations and controlsthat restrict the physicians and keep their behavior controlled. Malls, home cooking,housing, and vacations are all getting very predictable as well. Predictability is achievedin a number of ways, mainly by the replication of settings, the use of scripts and a routineway of acting, as well as a routine product.The final dimension of McDonaldization is increased control. Recently, newtechnologies have been developed in order to control the actions of the people.
Robotsand computers are both easier to deal with and to manage than people. Organizationshope to gain control over people by using and developing new and more effectivetechnologies. One people are controlled, their behavior is easily manageable andmachinelike, and when that happens, people can then be replaced by robots. Fast foodrestaurants do not have cooks, because that would mean they were forced to rely on oneperson.
Instead, their is a simple process that anyone can be trained to do, and followingcertain steps leads to the same product. McDonalds already as a number of newtechnologies which reduces the need for actual people to work. There is a soft drinkdispenser that shuts itself off automatically, a french fry machine that can cook the friesitself, and a cash register with the prices preset. Robots have a number of advantagesover people, because they cost less, increase efficiency, need fewer workers, and they arenever absent.
Customers are controlled by the management as well. People know exactlywhat they must do in a drive through window, and also what to do inside the restaurant. Management discourages people from staying in the restaurant for very long, so that thereis more room for other customers. The food is designed to be eaten quickly, and withlittle mess. In most food industries, technologies where humans basic role is only to planand maintain the system is becoming dominant, and replacing the processes where peoplemust be skilled in order to work. Education is McDonaldized as well, because professorsmust follow a set curriculum, and class periods must conform to a certain length.
Healthcare is controlled by various rules and bureaucracies, which are designed to control boththe patient and the doctors. Advertising is used now at a more personal level, and tries tocontrol the minds of the people into thinking a certain way. The main objective of controlis the reduce the uncertainties of a business, and technology tries to control work relatedprocesses, as well as the finished product.McDonaldization is found all around us, even at Hofstra University.
One aspectof university life which has become greatly McDonaldized is the registration process. AtHofstra, students must choose their own classes from a given list, and then meet withtheir advisor to approve it. They then have to take their registration card to MemorialHall, where they take a number, and wait for their turn to be called. Only then can your For the first factor of McDonaldization, efficiency, the registration process isdefinitely not up to par. When students first get to Memorial, they are forced to take anumber, like at a deli counter.
They then must wait. And wait. And wait, just for theirnumber to be called. Students are forced to wait for sometimes as long as three or fourhours to make a schedule. Although it is better than a random free for all, with everyonescrambling around at the same time, there is still much that can be done to improve it. Atsome parts of the day, there are as few as three windows open, with more than onehundred students waiting. This process can hardly be called efficient, when some otheruniversities have phone or electronic registration, which can be completed in a fewCalculability is also seen during the registration process. The main idea is to try tocomplete as many schedules in the shortest amount of time.
However, this causesstudents to not receive any individualized attention, and they are forced to make theirschedules on their own with little guidance. This is because the main interest is onquantity, rather than the quality of the schedules. In fact, the school prefers to have thelack of guidance, because it causes students to take unnecessary credits, and they thenmust spend more time in school, while paying even more money.
This system is fairly predictable, although not in a good way. During registrationtime, students know that they will have to spend many hours just waiting in line withnothing to do. They also can predict there will not be any seats left, that half of thewindows will be closed by lunch time, and that it will always be about a million degrees inthe waiting area. Students also are used to the gray schedule booklets, as well as theyellow registration cards. Seeing either of those items leads the students to think aboutexactly what they must go through, in order to register successfully.
The final element, control, is seen as well. Students are being controlled by a tinylittle slip of paper they hold in their hand, which has a simple number on it. That numbersignifies their place on line, but it was generated by a computer, which keeps track of howmany people are waiting. Students also rely on the kiosk system, which shows whichclasses are still open, and which have been closed out. These factors help keepregistration as a controlled process.McDonaldization is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s changing world.
However, it allows us to expect certain things, helps us to manage our time better, andmake life in general a little bit simpler. It also, however, cuts down on the individuals ofour society, and forces them to conform to a set standard, which is considered the norm. Some places are able to use McDonaldization effectively, while others are still strugglingto implement it in a way which makes it work. It is a complicated process, which requiresa good deal of thinking and brainstorming to manage successfully. All in all,McDonaldization has both positive and negative impacts on our world.Bibliography: