McDonaldization

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McDonaldization About seven months ago, I met an American guy who had arrived at New Zealand just a few days before. While exchanging our sentiments (I am from Japan) on New Zealand and its culture, the guy told me how he was surprised to see the country is so Americanised, mentioning McDonald’s as one of the examples. Now, in a different sense, this was surprising to me, too. I had never had the idea that having McDonald’s is being Americanised. In fact, McDonald’s is nearly everywhere in the world so that many people think it has already become part of their own cultures. But then the question arises: How did this come to be the case? Here is a brief outline of its history (based on Hebert, 1997; McDonald’s Corp., 1997; Mclennan, 1996). History In 1937, McDonald’s was founded as a small local restaurant by two brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald in Pasadena, California. In 1948, the brothers then converted their barbecue drive-in with car hops into limited-menu, self-service drive-in, in San Bernardino, California - the first advent of quick service restaurant industry. It is in April 1955, however, that the real ‘McDonald’s Corporation’ launched, by a salesman called Ray Kroc, who gained exclusive US franchising rights from the brothers. Starting with Des Plaines, Illinois, McDonald’s rapidly extended its outlets first over the Chicago area, then the US and eventually all over the world, including two largest restaurants in Moscow (1990) and Beijing (1992), both with 700 seats. There are currently over 21,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries (and about 100 in New Zealand), and the 1996 year-end systemwide sales reached 31.812 billion dollars, 59 percent of which came from the outside of the US. McDonaldization The worldwide business of McDonald’s is not just a globalisation of its economy. In his book, ‘The McDonaldization of Society,’ the American sociologist Dr. George Ritzer (1993, cited by Allan, 1997) contends that it also represents the process of rationalisation - “... the master concept of Max Weber’s analysis of modern capitalism, referring to a variety of related processes by which every aspect of human action became subject to calculation, measurement and control” (Abercrombie, Hill & Turner, 1988, p.902, cited by Allan, 1997). According to Ritzer, McDonaldization can be understood in terms of the following aspects: (1) Eff... ... middle of paper ... ...t Since I am not a sociology-major student, my understanding of McDonaldization may not be accurate, and I certainly do not have a clue on whether such phenomena are good or bad. Still, the point I want to make here is clear: Our societies are increasingly reigned by global standards, which profoundly affect the way we think, process information, and interact with others. (Yes, I know this is a kind of cliché in psychology.) Without doubt, McDonald’s and its ideas define part of our lives, and across cultures, we definitely share certain commonalities, both materially and psychologically. The only concern that remains, however, is the fact that the standardisation is typically based on the fashion preferred by those who are socially affluent or culturally dominant. In this regard, the same is true for the ‘internet’ system. Surely, this technology is a revolutionary tool that not only removes boundaries from the realms of our social interactions, but also pushes further the potential of human cognitive development. Nonetheless, information found on the net is the product of people who have access to computers, with inevitable reflection of their own personal or social viewpoints.

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