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Rationalization (a modernist process):
Made famous by the work of Max Weber
A far reaching process where traditional modes of thinking are replaced by an ends/means analysis concerned with efficiency and formalized social control
Society dominated by purely instrumental social relationships : continuum from emotional - traditional - rational action
A large formal organization characterized by a hierarchical authority structure, well established division of labour, written rules and regulations, impersonality and a concern for technical competence
Structure imposed on human interaction and thinking furthers process of rationalization
Produces de-humanising consequences as individuals are trapped in an ‘iron cage’
Rationalization processes affect ‘leisure’ and not only work
“McDonaldization” (Ritzer, 1993; 1998; 2004):
“is the process by which the principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world” (Ritzer, 1993)
Telemarketing extends processes of scripting and predictability
Self-fulfilling, as consumer (and commercial) expectations reinforce the need for predictability (e.g. television schedules)
De-territorialisation of activities a response to predictability (e.g. climbing walls)
Service employees monitored to ensure predictable outcomes
Sports grounds (predictable surface, weather, quality, experience?), indoor facilities (e.g. The Adventure Centre, Wimbledon Roof), shopping malls, hotel chains, amusement parks (Disney)
“antiseptic, climate-controlled, plastic world (s)” (Vertifeuille, 1994)
PREDICTABLE FUN/ANTI-LEISURE/LIVED LIVES?
“What a wonderful world Truman Burbank inhabits – a town of pretty houses and smiling people. On Seahaven Island, the streets are spotless, the traffic is orderly, the weather glorious, from seductive dawns (let’s get out of bed!) to sunsets worthy of Turner’s brush” (Corliss, 1998)
This Stepford Wives-type fable is eminently possible as technological ‘advance’ permits us to eradicate imperfection and difference: but do we want it?
Turnstiles, swipe cards, touch screen cash registers, automated customer service
Irrationality of rationality (5th dimension)
Rational systems turning in on themselves; leading to irrational outcomes (e.g. inefficiencies, unpredictabilities)
“most specifically, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that I mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within, or are served by them” (Ritzer, 1994)
Loss of the self/agential action: de-humanisation and dis-enchantment
Long queues, less nourishing food causes health problems, dependency on systems results in inability to be flexible, innovative, autocash machines
OTHER IRRATIONAL OUTCOMES?
Re-enchanting a disenchanting world?
Enchanting a disenchanting world
we are ‘consumed by consumption’ (Ritzer, 1999: xi)
Technological developments enable the ‘new means of consumption’ take on an almost enchanted, religious quality
casinos, mega mall, theme park, themed restaurant
BUT they also act as highly effective rationalized selling machines (e.g catering, merchandise, credit cards)
Apparently ‘de-McDonaldized’ settings actually act as a veneer for extended McDonaldization (e.g postmodern ballpark/stadia)