In 1993, American sociologist George Ritzer developed the McDonaldization thesis in his book ‘McDonaldization of Society’ (Giddens et al., 2018). Ritzer used the theory to express his views and opinions concerning the transformations of the industrialized societies due to the success of the American hamburger chain. Therefore, McDonaldization's concept is a phenomenon that occurs when social institutions adapt features that are similar to those of fast-food chains. The theory's foundation is on four primary dimensions responsible for irreversible and beneficial changes to my life and society at large.
The first dimension is efficiency, which Ritzer describes as the optimum strategies for getting from one point to another (Larney, 2020). As a consumer, the concept has made life more convenient for me by having what I want, when I want them, and accessing the quickest way possible to receive them. The second dimension is calculability that focusses on quantifiable objectives rather than the personal ones (Larney, 2020). The notion assists me in quantifying the number of products received compared to the amount of money paid for them. Thirdly, the dimension of predictability and standardization focusses on establishing repetitive and routinized service delivery and production processes. The concept also supports consistency in the production of products and services that are identical or close to one another. It allows me to purchase products or services irrespective of my location since they are similar and equal. Lastly, the dimension of control refers to the utilization of robots and the latest technologies to replace human labor and reduce workload. Also, it advocates a management method that ensures uniformity and standardization of employees or workers during their everyday activities.
According to Ritzer, there are reactionary irrationalities that come out of the hyper rationality of modern structures. It implies that McDonaldization's concept can sometimes lead to inefficiency, unpredictability, incalculability, and loss of control. Therefore, in this context, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems that deny humanity's fundamentals to individuals who work within. Instead, they dehumanize and may become destructive to the people. In my opinion, this concept is relevant and useful as it indicates that the standard of living goes beyond the consumption of products and day to day routines. As stated earlier, McDonaldization is based on four specific characteristics or dimensions, which tend to eliminate the need for skilled employees. Instead, the system requires workers to engage and focus on repetitive and routinized tasks and therefore making them easy to replace. As a result, these systems seem to devalue the workers' labor and take away their bargaining power.
As a result of technological innovations and the intensifying nature of globalization, most large companies are now using robots and other forms of technologies to move and distribute foods worldwide. As a result, in the next 50 or 100 years, there are high chances of transforming society and the economy into automated processes, computerization of office work, use of artificial intelligence, and robots to replace human labor. For instance, automobile firms use robots to assemble cars, and banks use automated teller machines to serve customers, which have resulted in the loss of jobs and a rise in unemployment rates (Giddens et al., p.468, 2018). Also, due to the computerization of tasks, the future of work is likely to be characterized by the end of full-time employment and the introduction of hiring of employees on short term contracts (p.470). Besides, technology offers cheap, but high-quality labor, which is likely to push future work to countries where the wage rates are low (p.468). Lastly, in a technology-dominated job market, individuals will consider acquiring diverse skills and multiple qualifications to enable them to navigate from job to job (p.470).
The concept of automation begun in the mid-1800s in the United States (U.S), and it involves the use of programmable machinery to execute duties (Giddens et al., 2018). Ever since, there has been a massive spread of the idea around the world, and it has negative consequences on the workers in terms of their skills and level of commitment. For example, new technologies lead to the alienation of workers in the workplace, which happens when they can express individuality only when producing tasks. It is harmful to the employees as they lose their autonomy and become emotionally separated from the organizations. Also, technologies such as artificial intelligence have de-skilling effects on workers as they reduce their level of skills and render their jobs obsolete (Giddens et al., 2018).
I have faced different circumstances of alienation at several workplaces, schools, and care work. For example, I felt alienated from an organization’s affairs when the firm kept me in the dark by not sharing critical updates on its success. A similar encounter happened when the senior management personnel of an entity started playing favorites and treating employees differently. Lastly, I felt alienated by managers for ignoring my set career objectives and professional aspirations. In all the circumstances, I felt used as an object, disrespected, and undervalued, considering my level commitment and dedication to the tasks. Also, the behavior made me feel like I am not needed in the job, which left me depressed, isolated from other colleagues, and emotionally and mentally disturbed.
Giddens, A., Duneier, M., Appelbaum, R., & Carr, D. (2018). Introduction to sociology. 11th edition, W.W. Norton & Company Inc, New York.
Larney, T. (2020). The McDonaldization. Simmons.Edu. http://web.simmons.edu/~chen/nit/NIT%2796/96-171-Larney.html
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