The increasing influence of the phenomenon known as McDonaldization is evident in our daily lives. First introduced by George Ritzer (book ‘The McDonaldization of Society’) McDonaldization is defined as the “process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant (McDonalds) are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world”. Essentially, this process of McDonaldization is the ultimate level of rationalisation. In his article, Ritzer puts emphasis on 4 different elements of what he calls the McDonald’s model which he says “lie at the heart of success of McDonaldization”. These elements are efficiency, predictability, calculability and control. Today, efficiency is the core value for millions of services, quite notably fast food chains.
In his article, Ritzer mentions that “college campuses often look like shopping mall food courts”. The effects of McDonaldization can clearly be seen at these college cafeterias where everything is set up to result in the highest level of efficiency. In order to observe this rational process, I went to the dining hall here at Mount Holyoke and sat in the area closest to the card swipe station. This station is located near the entrance of the dining hall and grants students entry into the dining hall. It consists of 4 computerised counters where people are granted entry upon having their school identification card swiped on a machine. I went to observe this station at its optimal time, lunch, which is when most of the students flood into the hall. Despite the high traffic during this time, the process of entry was extremely smooth and nobody had to wait more than a couple seconds before their cards had been swiped and they were let in. The fact that all it takes is one swipe of a card in order for someone to access the cafeteria service is a prime example of a rationalised process. This system of service is extremely efficient as it is the optimum method of granting access to hundreds of people wanting to enter at the same time. Moreover, it is an easy process for both the person who is granting access and the person who is being granted access to the cafeteria. Since everything is in the form of credit on the identification card, the hectic process of having to pay every single time or having to enter information about a person manually to let them access the cafeteria is not necessary. The level of control obtained through this automated system is also the result of McDonaldization. Ritzer says in his article that control over McDonaldized institutions are “reinforced by the technologies used and the way the organisation is set up”. This is a clear example of a rational process in the college cafeteria, a McDonaldized institution which Ritzer also points out as a “multi-billion-dollar-a-year business”.
Furthermore, this rationalised process and the effects of McDonaldization can be observed within the cafeteria as well. There is a wide range and variety of food readily available to us in the dining hall. This proves to be efficient especially for those who need to grab a quick bite in between classes and those who have packed schedules. As stated in Ritzer’s articles, the process of McDonaldization allows people to “acquire what they want or need almost instantaneously and get it far more conveniently”.