What does Ritzer mean by the term McDonaldization of society?

George Ritzer coined the word McDonaldization in his book ‘The Mcdonaldization of Society’ published in 1993. McDonaldization is the model that was adopted by Mc Donald’s in the industry of fast food. This model is viewed as the most rational form of running any business in the capitalist system. Its rationality can be understood from the four basic components. They are efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. When any society adopts these features of the fast-food industry, it is said that it has undergone McDonaldisation.

What are the 4 elements of McDonaldization?

Efficiency is maintained by using methods that require the minimum amount of time to do any task. For instance, in any fast food restaurant, the prime motive is to serve the customer within a short duration of time. This feature makes customers who are running late to rely on these food chains. Some examples can be the ATMs, the self checks out the system in various groceries, airports, medicine stores, etc.

By calculability, it can be understood that an emphasis is put upon those things which can be calculated or quantified. So, objectivity, like sales that can be calculated or measured is prioritized over subjectivity, like taste which cannot be evaluated. This leads to the equation that large quantity is equal to better quality. Customers are made to believe that they usually get more in a lesser amount of money. For this, workers working faster is more important than producing better.

Next is predictability which means that wherever a person might be, if he orders something, he will get the same taste everywhere, in all the restaurants of the food chain. No variations are made in the cooking procedure, recipes, or ingredients. This applies to the workers as well, because their work is fixed. They do the same work repeatedly, every day following the same techniques and routine. Hence, their work is also predictable.

The last feature is that of control. McDonaldisation controls both employees as well as customers through increased mechanization. Employers control the entire process by substituting human labour with non-human technology. It is not only influencing America but even the rest of the world at a very fast pace. Now, almost all types of restaurants are employing this model not only in the city centers but malls, hospitals, schools, universities, suburbs, etc.

The effects of McDonaldisation can be seen almost all over the world. However, whether it is positive or negative is still a matter of debate. While the four aspects of efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control show how it has brought about various progressive changes to this fast-moving world, the drawbacks are not less. The installation of machines in place of a human for proving faster service can cause unemployment. While calculability means quantity will be more, items always run the risk of compromising quality. Again, due to predictability, variations are seldom introduced in the services. Lastly, the aspect of control which explains how non-human technologies control human also means that humans can be easily replaced by machines.