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The McDonaldization of Society

In the age of globalization when the world is shrinking, sociologists look for images to capture society and recent metaphors have often taken a lead from logos and brand names.

As consumption and shopping has grown under global capitalism world brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, American Express, Nike, Disney, Wal-Mart, Apple and Google have come to symbolize a much wider social organization. Social scientists now write about these instantly recognizable brands to understand how a society works.

George Ritzer's sociological work The McDonaldization of Society is a prime example of branding of society. First published in 1993 it has generated many debates. Ritzer developed Max Weber's ideas of rationality and bureaucracy and takes the fast food company McDonald's as a point of entry for thinking not just about fast food in itself, but as a metaphor for the ways in which much consumer behavior is organized.

For Ritzer, society is becoming McDonaldised and there are four key features of this. Everywhere across the world not just in McDonald's, the common themes are efficiency, calculability, predictability and uniformity, and control through automation. The world is starting to act like a giant McDonald's.