The McDonaldization of society refers to the mass movement of society towards extreme rationalization. While it may seem that society is simply moving towards a fast food approach, what it actually indicates is that there is movement towards always examining issues from an ends/mean analysis. Rather than looking at issues in a traditional method, individuals, groups and organizations have been trained to examine issues by breaking them down into smaller and smaller parts and to determine the efficiency of these aspects. There are times when this is good and times when this is quite bad for society (Ritzer, 2016).
Society has likely learned to accept this type of movement because we have become accustomed to it. Individuals may have found the movement towards fast food to be disturbing at first; it was not “home cooking.” However, as more and more individuals ate at these establishments, and as new generations grew up with it, it became normalized. These organizations impact us though because they may diminish the aspects of work that cannot be quantified. There is personal achievement and enjoyment in work that cannot be measured in an ends/mean analysis. As a result, this movement may be bad because it robs individuals of a meaningful experience of work. Rather, they are merely “part of a machine” in society.
There are times when this type of organization and behavior is appropriate though. For instance, if there is a mass epidemic of a disease and an antibiotic needs to be produced in greater quantities, any movement towards improving the outcome would be beneficial to society. This has been seen in cases such as the anthrax cases of 2001. The country was concerned that the drug Cipro would not be produced in large enough quantities for a massive outbreak. In these cases, a McDonald’s approach is best (Peterson & Pear, 2001).
- Peterson, L. & Pear, R. (2001, October 16). A nation challenged: Cipro. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/16/business/a-nation-challenged-cipro- anthrax-fears-send-demand-for-a-drug-far-beyond-output.html
- Ritzer, G. (2016). What is McDonaldization. Retrieved from: http://www.mcdonaldization.com/whatisit.shtml