The McDonaldization Thesis: Explorations and Extensions

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George Ritzer

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    Preface

    Since the publication of the original edition of The McDonaldization of Society in 1993 I have been invited to present a variety of papers on, or derived from, the main thesis of that book. Those papers represent the basis of this book which both explores and moves beyond the McDonaldization thesis. To put it simply, that thesis is that the fast-food restaurant, especially the pioneering and still dominant chain of McDonald's restaurants, is the contemporary paradigm of the rationalization process. As a result, that process can be dubbed the “McDonaldization process.” Spearheaded by, and modeled after the fast-food restaurant, we have witnessed, are seeing, and are likely to continue to observe a continuation, even an acceleration, of the rationalization process. McDonaldization involves an increase in efficiency, predictability, calculability and control through the substitution of non-human for human technology. While undoubtedly bringing with it many positive developments, McDonaldization also involves a wide range of irrationalities, especially dehumanization and homogenization. It is these irrationalities of rationality (and associated problems) which represent the true heart of the McDonaldization thesis.

    While the chapters in this book had their origins as a series of independent essays, efforts have been made to make this volume much more than simply a set of freestanding essays on the McDonaldization thesis. For example, repetition of such things as the basic elements of McDonaldization and the fundamental irrationalities associated with it have been eliminated wherever possible. In addition, there is a logic to the chapters and the book in that efforts to explore various aspects of the McDonaldization thesis are followed by a set of chapters which seek to move beyond, and build upon, that thesis. Thus, this book represents both an extension of earlier ideas into a set of new domains and a platform for planned later work on the “new means of consumption,” one of which is the fast-food restaurant.

    Chris Rojek, both a fellow sociologist and sociology editor at Sage (London), has been instrumental in bringing this book to fruition. Chris's dual roles make him a unique and particularly rewarding person to work with. He is a valued advisor not only on the book business but also on the most advanced sociological ideas. It has been a pleasure working with him on this and related projects. His brother, and chief aide, Robert Rojek has helped in innumerable concrete ways throughout the course of the writing. Stephen Barr, now in overall charge of London operations for Sage, helped to provide a supportive climate in which this book could be completed. Finally, I would like to thank Alan Bryman of Loughborough University for some very insightful comments on the first draft of the book.

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