Society & Us

Society & Us: McDonaldization 

This concept developed by American sociologist George Ritzer first appeared in his 1993 bestselling book, The McDonaldization of Society. Since then it has become a central concept within the field of sociology, particularly within the sociology of globalization.

Ritzer defines McDonaldization as the process by which principles governing fast food restaurant chains such as McDonald’s have come to dominate virtually every aspect of society.

McDonald’s offers a very limited range of standardized products cheaply and effectively by imposing a strict order on its staff, its raw materials and its customers. According to its critics, the result is good profit and bad food. Ritzer’s claim is that McDonald’s-like methods are permeating large parts of the social world beyond fast food restaurants thereby corrupting what should be original and authentic life.


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Ritzer’s theory is an update on classical sociologist Max Weber’s theory of how bureaucracy produced by scientific rationality went on to become the central organizing force of modern societies through much of the twentieth century. Ritzer argues that changes within science, economy, and culture have shifted societies away from Weber’s bureaucracy to usher in a new social structure and order that he calls McDonaldization.

Four key aspects characterize this economic and social order: efficiency, calculability, predictability and standardization, and control.

Sociologists recognize that McDonaldization is a global phenomenon that has led to the homogenization of economic and social life.


  • Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. The Sage Dictionary of Sociology. London: SAGE Publications, 2006. Print.
  • Crossman, Ashley. “McDonaldization Defined.” Education. About, Inc., 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 09 Dec. 2016

Author: Stuti Das, India

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