Many contemporary sociology theories are based on the original theories as an attempt to answer the same social issues but in the modern context. For instance, George Ritzer has taken core elements of Max Weber’s rationalization that manifested in the bureaucratic social organization. As a response to changes in the modern world, Ritzer (1993), otherwise, suggested that the society is now transformed into a fast-food restaurant organizational structure that he called “McDonaldization.” This essay claims that Ritzer reconsidered Weber’s concept of rationalization within the contemporary world.
Ritzer and Weber
Weber’s concept of rationalization is a process in which traditional ways of reasoning were being replaced by the analysis that considers efficiency and social control. For him, bureaucracy was the manifestation of rationalization in the social world. This is because the bureaucratic structure includes hierarchical roles, the rule of law, a merit-based system, and other aspects of that time’s social order. By updating the bureaucratic order in modern society, Ritzer (1993) highlights five central elements of McDonaldization that are efficiency, calculability, predictability, increased control, and replacement of humans with non-human technology. It is evident that Ritzer’s elements resemble Weber’s ideas. Moreover, Ritzer developed Weber’s work by examining the effects of technology.
Rationalization and Efficiency
Ritzer (1993) applies the principles of rationalization to the modern concept of entrepreneurship. Indeed, the efficiency that was mentioned by Weber is a primary goal of business entities. Every organization wants to obtain desired results with lower effort. As such, Ritzer (1993) assumes that the rationalizing process affects the actions of modern-day businessmen. Contemporary fast-food cafes are aiming to cook and service customers quickly, utilizing various methods, such as salad bars, drive-up windows, and online ordering.
Rationalization and Calculability
Rationalization influences how current working business entities operate and interact with their customers. Management, marketing, and even recruitment of future employees are affected by rationalization. The second aspect of Ritzer’s theory is calculability which is focusing on quantifiable objects rather than qualitative ones. Weber pointed out that society was concerned about material capital by illustrating the hierarchy in the bureaucratic social order.
Ritzer (1993) also demonstrates that people’s obsession with numbers is increased in the modern world. For example, there are Black Fridays where people do anything to buy some things at a lower price. Linking calculability with the fast-food system, junk food is cheap and accessible all day. There is a tendency to prioritize quantity rather than the quality of products and services offered by a company. Ritzer (1993) noticed this pattern of concern about the number of modern people and related it to Weber’s rationalization.
Predictability, Increased Control, and Technology
Other elements of the contemporary fast-food structured society are predictability, increased control, and replacement of human beings with non-human technology. In Ritzer’s explanation, predictability is a characteristic of people to structure the surrounding environment with expected events. It prevents surprises and eliminates any uncomfortable situations. By ordering food at the café, customers know exactly what they will get and how it will look. Shopping is also predictable, as people know how to shop and where. Ritzer shows that the modern social order is constructed in a way that is safe, as it predicted all the potential outcomes. Weber’s rationalization provides means for society to control current and future events, as unexpected cases can ruin the whole system that is working as fast as fast-food service does.
The notion of predictability is tightly linked with increased control. Control is now a fundamental aspect of modern society. Buying food or other products and services will bring the desired profit. Everything in a business structure has its instructions and required documents to operate. Ritzer (1993) demonstrates that people are now not allowed to act by themselves but rather follow the guidelines and be accountable for their actions. Profit and balances are critical elements of every organization.
Ritzer (1993) writes about the replacement of human beings with technology to demonstrate that Weber’s concept of rationalization can end up human species. If society continues to rationalize its organizational aspects, it can replace human beings, as non-human technology is much more efficient and rational in its decisions. Cafés have the ordering methods without the interaction with a cashier, while smartphones can predict people’s preferences. In the nearest future, society is more likely to notice the problems associated with a fast-food structured order.
Overall, classical sociological theories provide the basis for the modern ones, as they examine similar social issues but in a different context. The concept of rationalization provided by Weber is the replacement of traditional thinking with the careful analysis of efficiency and control. Ritzer (1993) applied Weber’s ideas to develop his theory of McDonaldization which considers today’s social order as a form of a fast-food restaurant. Ritzer (1993) provides five aspects that are efficiency, calculability, predictability, increased control, and replacement of humans by non-human technology to show how it describes the modern social structure. According to Ritzer (1993), people are willing to have more by doing less as they are addicted to figures and value quantity over quality.
Ritzer, G. (1993). The McDonaldization of society: An investigation into the changing character of contemporary social life. Pine Forge Press.