The concept of rationalization as it is used in social science and social theory refers in general to complex processes in which beliefs and actions become more coherent, consistent, systematic, and goal oriented. It is often used to describe and account for large-scale social and historical processes, such as the increasing secularization of society or the transformation from a traditional autarchic agrarian economy to a modern market-oriented industrial economy. Rationalization in these instances may involve the elimination of magic and superstition from religious belief systems in favor of the methodical systematization of rational beliefs and ethical norms. Or it may entail the shift from wasteful and hidebound labor practices to more efficient, calculable, and technologically adept modes of production. Rationalization can thus be both ...

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