Critically examine the view that society is becoming Mcdonalized using relevant examples to illustrate your argument Many areas of society, such as shopping and travel, have changed dramatically in their structure and operation in recent few decades. Nowadays, for example, a huge supermarket such as ASDA is more commonplace than a small community greengrocer. I put these changes down to the Mcdonalization of society and the changing of our attitudes due to the effects of its 4 key components; efficiency, calculability, predictability and control.
Mcdonalization is the process whereby society seems to take on the principles of the fast food restaurant. Therefore efficiency in industry and society is significant, doing things in the quickest way possible and making the best use (economically) of the resources availably with little or no waste. In McDonalds this is demonstrated by the production line effect, where one person fries burgers, one person puts them in a bun etc. The second component is Calculability, this is the emphasis on quantity rather than quality, demonstrated by Ritzer’s quote (1996) “they sell the Big mac..
Not the Good Mac”. Predictability is another component; people do not like to be surprised, by unforeseeable circumstances. Ritzer (1996) notes that a Big Mac in one continent will taste the same in another, he also later indicates that society now enjoys the comfort that comes with this. Finally the control factor, that is “Control over both employees and customers because, ” [people are] the great source of uncertainty, unpredictability and inefficiency in any rationalizing system… (ritzer 1996:101 – from Mcdonalization. com)
I am going to focus on shopping; where we shop, how we shop and the shops we shop in which I believe has been heavily influenced by the Mcdonaization thesis. By assessing the presence of the 4 factors mentioned I will evaluate the changes. The department shore shows maximum efficiency of shopping. It is basically many shops in one. In one shop we can buy clothes, kitchen wear, sports equipment, beauty products, home furnishing, beauty products, restaurant and wedding services.
Many department shops source other brands to, for example Debenhams have “shop in shops” with companies such as Topshop and Warehouse renting floor space within them. Debenhams is efficient because it does not restrict itself to one market eg. Clothing . It also control consumers as it increases the likelihood of them solely paying a visit to Debenhams, because it has everything there rather than them shopping up and down the high street, Secondly we can look at Shopping malls; once described by Kowinski (cited in Ritzer1996: 4) as “Cathedrals of Consumption”.
The shopping mall demonstrates maximum efficiency for consumers and producers and shows predictability, control and calculability too. Shopping malls incorporate everything under one roof, people may go to buy clothes, homewear and groceries, they are therefore efficient to shop in and to locate in. Malls can often turn into a ” day out”, consumers can go to a bank to obtain money to make purchases, shop, visit a food court (often full of McDonalds themselves Ritzer:1996: 54), go bowling, to the cinema and do their food shopping on the way home.
Kowinski even described a mall as “an extremely efficient and effective selling machine” (sited in Ritzer: 1996: 54). As consumers we do not want to visit 5 different city areas, and waste time and money going to different places for different things. This is a major change in society, 50 years huge malls were non existent in the UK, the first mall, Merry Hill, only opening in the late 1980’s. Consumers do not tend to consider shopping a community experience now either, they will generally not know the people serving them or have conversation with the people they come into contact with.
Tescos home Delivery for example mean that to grocery shop people no longer have to even leave their house. There is no need to talk to anyone or to know where the shop is it can simply be delivered to their door. Many would say this is an irrationality of Mcdonaldization, that is a an unintended and negative consequence of the ideology. Malls control what is available for us to buy as they authorize which shops can be in the mall. Therefore malls tend to be full of high street chains rather than individual independent shops, which limits our choice.
Malls are also “free” from “extreme” shops such as weapon shops or sex shops so the type of stores available are predictable too. A shopper described that “No matter whatever the weather is outside it’s always the same in here” (From Kowinski cited in Ritzer;1996;94). People do not want to come cross unexpected circumstances, malls in general look the same, contain the same, have a comfortable climate, flat surfaces, low crime and are away from the perils of bad weather.
The same way a McDonalds will have the same lay out, same operating system, same menu and same uniform all over the world. Calculability in shopping is shown by the fact that people now want to buy more than ever before; this is demonstrated by the huge increase in the use of credit cards and mounting debts. “In 2003 we spent i?? 108 billion on cards and by 2007 it is expected to rise to around i?? 154 billion.
The number of cards in issue has risen by nearly two-thirds in the past four years so has the level of debt. “(http://uk. biz. yahoo. com/dealwithdebt/nationaldebt. html). We want more, we seem to be no longer satisfied with one good or what we can afford, we want 2 or 3 or 4 goods, we want the biggest, the best, the most value, we want the “Go large! Double Quarter Pounder(r) with Cheese meal” and the huge increase in credit card use demonstrates how this view of consumption dominates retail shopping.