Sample Sociology Paper on McDonaldization
Ray Kroc (1902-1984), the genius behind the franchising of McDonald’s restaurants was a man with big ideas and grand ambitions. However, even Kroc could not have anticipated the astounding impact of his creation. McDonalds is the basis of one of the most influential developments in contemporary society. Its reverberations extend far beyond its point of origin in the United States and in the fast-food business. McDonalds has influenced a wide range of business undertakings, indeed the way of life of a significant portion of the world. The impact continues to expand through the 21st century. McDonalds led to the creation of a phenomenon known as McDonaldization. McDonaldization is the process by which major fast food restaurants are controlling more sectors of the American society and the whole world at large. McDonaldization is an unstoppable process that has swept previously impermeable religions and institutions of the world.
The process did not originate in a vacuum, rather it was a created by pre-existing economic and social developments that led to its development, and defined its characteristics. A bureaucracy is a big organization made of hierarchy power structures. Through these structures, people in offices have certain responsibilities and must always act in accordance with the written regulations, set rules, and a means of coercion as exercised by those occupying the peak of the hierarchical pyramid. Max Weber is responsible for the bureaucratic school of thought. His ideas on bureaucracy are grounded on the broader theory of the rationalization process. Weber argued that western countries managed to be rational through continuous predictability, non-human technologies, efficiency, and calculability.
McDonaldization is an amplification and extension of weber’s theory of rationalization, especially into consumption settings. Today, the epitome of Bureaucracy is McDonaldization. In McDonalds, the means to an end is shaped by larger social structures, regulations and rules. Employees have little or no room for self innovation or creativity. An ideal aspect of formal rationality, is that it allows employees little of means to an end. Formal rationality is not a choice in these places rather it is an expectation that should not be broken.
McDonaldization has its advantages. One of the perks of the process is the fact that it is the best process when handling large tasks especially those requiring a lot of paperwork. Secondly, the quantification of tasks is emphasized by McDonaldization. Through quantification of tasks, success of employees can be gauged. Employees who handle less tasks than expected are deemed as undesirable while those who handle more tasks than expected are deemed as excellent. However, this quantitative approach presents a problem because there is much emphasis on quantity and little emphasis on quality. Thirdly, rules and regulations make fast-food restaurants operate in a predictable manner. To some people, predictability represents dependability. Finally, McDonaldization like bureaucracy places great importance on controlling people using a set of regulations and rules. There is no room for human judgment. Human judgment can be erroneous, and sometimes it can cause delays. At McDonalds, employees must carry out tasks in the manner prescribed by McDonalds and are prohibited from devising personal ways of doing those tasks. This has ensured uniformity and predictability throughout the fast-food chain.
However, the process suffers from irrationality caused by their highly rationalized behavior. McDonalds is a dehumanizing place to work and eat in. People’s interests are given little concern as the organization’s rules and regulations take precedence. The identity of employees and free spirit is suppressed as they are given little or no room to express themselves. Employees at McDonalds cannot be human beings with ideas or opinions. They are just instruments who are there to follow a certain set of rules and regulations. Additionally, McDonaldization often results in irrationalities such as inefficiencies. Instead of remaining efficient, this bureaucracy becomes increasingly inefficient. Quantification of tasks is highly emphasized at McDonalds. As a result, little attention is paid to the quality of work delivered by the employees.
Increasing efficiency is behind the just-in-time concept of production. The concept results in: streamlined operations, faster service, and tight schedules. There is nothing wrong with efficiency especially to the consumers. For example, one of the efficiency strategies at McDonalds is the drive-through. Customers are able to pick their orders and enjoy a hot meal as they go or to take home. The drive-through reduces time wasted dining. It also reduces the parking spaces occupied by customers. The concept is a win-win situation for both the customer and McDonalds. My experience as a McDonald’s customer is that services are very fast. Employees work in a very fast manner while collecting and serving orders. The drive-through is the best part especially if one is in a hurry. Additionally, efficient workers are able to work faster through rationalization. The employer benefits form the increased productivity and more profits are made.
At McDonalds, the most effective means to complete a task is chosen. This may be by use of machine or getting the employees to work in a certain manner. Employees are then trained on these efficient means and whenever an employee discovers an efficient method, they are told to teach others how to do it. In short, the method that yields better results is the one selected to be used by all. However, human beings hinder organizations from maximizing through rationalization. Human beings unlike computers and machines are flawed. Individuals are restricted by human nature to maximize. Though maximization is a mirage, McDonalds continues to strive for it in the hope that even if it is unattainable, it will boost the efficiency of employees. In organizations that subscribe to McDonaldization, people are not allowed to discover the best way to perform tasks. New employees in these settings are not allowed to figure out by themselves the best way to complete certain tasks. Neither are they allowed to discover through trial and error what method better suits them. Instead, new employees undergo training to teach them predetermined ways to do their work. The employees may discover a few tricks here and there on how to best complete their jobs. In the past, this was discouraged but today they are encouraged to share with management so that others can be shown how to be more efficient.
McDonaldization aims at creating efficiency both for the employees and the consumers. From my drive-through experience, I can testify to the efficiency of McDonalds. McDonalds is responsible for turning efficiency into a global reality. Many organizations have in the recent past borrowed a leaf from McDonald’s Practices. This has resulted in McDonaldization. The process has many advantages among them increased productivity and increased profits. However, McDonaldization kills the innovation and creativity of employees. Employees at McDonalds are not allowed to be creative or innovative, but to follow certain predetermined rules and regulations. They are dehumanized and their identity and spirit is suppressed. McDonaldization places great emphasis on quantity and not quality. As a result, employees deliver quantity and not quality.