George Ritzer - The Macdonaldization of Society
Ritzer identifies four characteristics of McDonalds:
1. Efficiency – everything is fast, your in, your fed, your out
2. Calculability – you know how long it takes and what it will cost to eat at McDonalds
3. Predictability – you will get the same big mac every time you order one
4. Control – mechanization – the assembly line, from making the burgers to ordering
About a month ago my wife and I were going to take a weekend to go skiing in Banff. I was faced with the conflict of choosing a place to stay. We wanted a romantic private getaway, something small and quite so we thought a bed and breakfast would be nice. I have never actually stayed at one though and this fact raised some anxiety for me, what would it be like to share space with complete strangers, pay to stay at someone’s home, what kind of awkward situations would this manifest? Would I have to slide the cash across the table? Would there be awkward silence during breakfast if they ate with us, would they stand in the hallway looking at us as we ate the food they had prepared? What time would we have to be checked-in, awake for breakfast?
These are the questions McDonalds endeavours to answer by creating a uniform scripted experience. It offers privacy and convenience, I don’t have to bend my schedule or test my conversation skills, and my etiquette only has to be rudimentary. They have replaced human connection with privacy, a theme that fits quite well into what Mumford has to say about society.
The founder of McDonalds has taken a page out of the Grand Inquisitor’s book, “we will take their freedom from them and they will beg us to do it and worship us because of it.”
Kors wrote about the fact that capitalism rewards people who fulfill needs. I think McDonalds has shown that those people who are rewarded don’t fulfill needs but wants, some real and some advertised. Don’t lose the distinction between wants and needs, we would be living in a different world if it were needs.
PS. We didn’t go away that weekend because I had too much homework.