…Mechanical (rather than human) means are to be used to move the car (and parts) from one step in the assembly process to the next….Complex sets of movements are eliminated and the worker does as nearly as possible only one thing with one movement “(Ibid, 59).
Calculability “involves an emphasis on things that can be calculated, counted, quantified. It means a tendency to use quantity as a measure of quality. This leads to a sense that quality is equal to certain, usually (but not always) large quantities of things” (Ibid, 62) Ritzer points out that this was an approach from McDonalds early days. He cites evidence of the Big Mac as a name for a burger: big burger must be desirable, that “consumers are lead to believe that they are getting a large amount of food for a small expenditure of money. Calculating consumers come away with the feeling that they are not only getting a good deal….what is particularly interesting about all this emphasis on quantity is the seeming absence of interest in communicating anything about quality” (Ibid, 63). By reducing production and labor costs to the lowest possible efficient level, fast-food restaurants can offer lower priced food than traditional restaurants or cafes: they increase “more business….They may earn less profit on each meal, but they sell many more meals” (Ibid, 65). But going into the calculation of “more food for less price” is the delivery of the product to the consumer. By improving the efficiency of the assembly line approach of putting the product together (cooking it, adding the condiments, etc.), they can get the food before the customer within a very short period of time – better than a traditional restaurant or cafe, who makes each dish ordered unique. Speed “is…a quantifiable factor of monumental importance…. another reason why the drive-through window was embraced (Ibid). In other applications, Ritzer notes that the radical changes with quality vs. quantity reside with the development of the computer. The “first computer was constructed in 1946….weighed 30 tons, employed 19,000 vacuum tubes…had very limited capacity. Now…we have far more compact computers with infinitely greater capacity….made possible by the…silicon chip….Many aspects of todays quantity-oriented society could not exist…were it not for the computer” (Ibid, 81). Even without the computer, Ritzer cites, we still would have moved toward a quantification of our society under McDonaldization but the computer has expedited the pace far greater than within an analog time frame.
Predictability is a process provides uniformity through product and service. Rationalization “involves the increasing effort to ensure predictability from time or place to another….In order to ensure predictability over time and place, a rational society emphasizes such things as discipline, order, systematization, formalization, routine, consistency, and methodical operation” (Ibid, 83). When people walk into Ramada Inn in Los Angeles, California, they know what to expect when the walk into a Ramada Inn in Fort Wayne, Indiana; when people enter a Kentucky Fried Chicken, they know they can expect the same quality of food and service when they enter a KFC in Key West, Florida. Virtually “all that some of the more recent entrants into the McDonaldization process have in common is a sign and physical structure….much of what is said and done in fast-food restaurants by both employees and customers is quite ritualized….Predictability in such end-products is made possible by the use of uniform raw ingredients, identical technologies for food preparation and cooking, similarity in the way the food is served, and identical packaging” (Ibid, 84-85). Whether its a fast-food chain or a clothing-retail outlet, guidelines are institute for everyone to follow and enforced by quality control managers or supervisors to “ensure predictability” (Ibid, 87). One of the fascinating examples Ritzer offers is Hollywood movie sequels. Consumers are introduced to a memorable character in a certain setting, whether its archeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones or creepy motel clerk Norman Bates. The first movies that introduced to these characters were popular, which translated that people wanted to see them again, and sequels were created. So, we expect to see Indiana Jones battling the bad guys, getting the treasure through a series of hair-raising experiences, and getting the girl in the end; we expect to see Norman Bates being tormented by his “mother” and just being generally creepy. If Indiana Jones became creepy, and Norman Bates became a hero: the movie sequels would fail because audiences, under McDonaldization, dont want to see that – no matter how well the movie was written, directed, and acted. Movie patrons “seem more willing to shell out money for a safe and familiar movie than for a movie that is completely new to them. Like a McDonalds meal, many sequels are not very good, but at least the consumers know what they are getting” (Ibid, 89).
The fourth dimension that Ritzer addresses under McDonaldization is control.
Under this dimension “increased control and the replacement of human with nonhuman technology. In fact, the replacement…is often motivated by a desire for greater control….the efforts to increase control are usually aimed at people” (Ibid, 100) because individuals are the highest risk of uncertainty within any rationalize system. To accomplish this task of control, effective technologies must be used to reduce “their actions to a series of machine-like actions” (Ibid) whether thats to reduce their input during the production process or eliminate humans altogether and deploy robots and other nonhuman technologies for “increased productivity, greater quality, and lower costs” (Ibid, 101). One of the examples Ritzer cites is bread production. This aged-old form of baking by skilled laborers “who lavish love and attention on a few loaves of bread at a time….Such skilled bakers cannot produce enough bread for our mass-consumption society, and the bread they do produced would suffer from the uncertainties involved” (Ibid) – a major concern for McDonaldization practitioners to eliminate or severely reduce human involvement. When a consumer purchases a loaf of Wonder Bread, whether its a supermarket in Maine or a convenience store in small northern town in Arizona, they know that loaf will be the same in appearance, shape, texture, and taste. No extreme variation, no individuality instilled during the manufacturing process. Another example would be chefs in a restaurant. A trained chef offers his or her own style and technique toward the menu cuisine. But if the chef is ill or does not show up for work, the food would be of a different quality produced. Fast food restaurants have eliminated the chef-concept and developed “a routine technology involving a few simple steps and procedures that almost anyone can follow. The cooking that does occur in the fast-food restaurant is essentially like a game of connect-the-dots….Follow the prescribed steps eliminates most of the uncertainties…associated with cooking” (Ibid, 105). Essentially, all food that is prepared by fast-food restaurants arrive “preformed, precut, presliced, and preprepared, often by nonhuman technologies. This serves to drastically limit what employees need to do – there is usually no need for them to form…cut…slice…or prepare. All they need to do is…cook, or often merely heat, the food and pass it on to the customers” (Ibid, 105). It has been cited that these nonhuman technologies helps reduce cost, improve efficiency with less labor. But workers arent the only target of control. The customers are being controlled in a way they are cattled through lines at the counter, moved through a single-filed line at the drive-through window, or making the furniture uncomfortable so customers come in, eat, and get out to serve more people. They are like Webers bureaucracies, which are “huge nonhuman structures with innumerable rules, regulations, guidelines, positions, lines of command, and hierarchies that are designed to dictate…what people do within the system and how they do it” (Ibid, 117). This is the ideal condition under rationalization, and McDonaldization: control ensures that efficiency can be achieved, which ensures a level of calculability, and that the product or service is predictably replicated.
As addressed earlier, rationalized systems can create a level of irrationalities that “serve to limited, ultimately compromise, and perhaps even undermine, their rationality….irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems – they serve to deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within them or are served by them” (Ibid, 121) the question that Ritzer asks is who does a rationalize system best serve, those producing the product or those served? Rationalization “is something that those at the top of the organization, the owners, the franchisees, the top managers, seek to impose on those who rank below them in the organization….Those at or near the top of these systems, however, find the rationalization of their own positions anathema to them.. They want…to be free of rational constraints….They need to be free to be creative, but creativity is not desired from underlings….Subordinates are simply to follow blindly the dictates of the rules, regulations, and structures of the rational system….the goal is to impose efficiency on subordinates while those in charge remain as creative as possible”.