Week 7 Summary

McDonaldization

Weber and rationalization … McDonaldization represents a contemporary variant–the application of principles of the fast food industry to businesses, organizations and industries, says sociologist George Ritzer.

Revolutionary?

  • Franchising
  • Product uniformity
  • Control
  • Eating habits
  • Profit (retail consumption is chief, though Ritzer’s treatment goes much further)

The Four principles:

  1. Efficiency–streamlined, customer performs work
  2. Calculability–the profit thing, quantity over quality
  3. Control–of workers, customers, image …. includes automation, but also behavior
  4. Predictability–control leads to this

Some outcomes of a trend toward more low-wage, and an increasingly Mcdonaldized, workforce:

  • Little opportunity for advancement—low wage, low-security, low human capital, low social mobility
  • Need for public subsidies–are taxpayers picking up the tab between wage and cost of living?
  • More control, less creativity–control, specialization, and . . . . family values???
  • Work and satisfaction–is this an unrealistic expectation? Do some just have to work for da man?
  • Feminization of low-wage work? In the film Fast Food Women, a few interesting statements are made:
    • Men won’t apply for these jobs, especially if they’ve got a wife and kids at home’
    • These workers don’t need benefits, cuz “Dad’s got all the benefits ‘under the sun’ “(or did until he was laid off)
    • Women may be doing more of the low wage work, especially in economically depressed areas where poverty may be chronic if not endemic
      • PRWORA of 1996 . . . . who left the TANF roles for low-wage work (trend toward feminization of poverty)?
    • The work is hard, but there doesn’t appear to be much reward for working hard–work ethics aren’t valued
    • The jobs have been split up and reconstituted into smaller parts, requiring ‘little skill,’ and offering little hope of a better future.
  • Drive to efficiency–does this dilute the quality of product, work? Are people being replaced by machines? Is labor perceived by management as a cost?
  • Applied to the welfare state–are parts of this McDonaldized as well (apply the four principles)? And … where do low-wage workers go when the ends don’t meet?

Video

Headwaters. 1989. Fast Food Women (part I; part II; part III; part IV)

George Ritzer. 2015. The McDonaldization of Society (8th Edition). Pine Forge Press.