Free «Ritzer's Components of McDonalization» UK Essay Sample

Ritzer's Components of McDonalization

In American society, the concept of McDonaldization has become a growing tendency. It is characterized by the prevalence of principles of fast-food restaurants and greater homogenization of cultures. It also refers to the rationalization of concepts in society, leading to new lifestyles and perception. The process of McDonaldization is introduced by Ritzer who has placed an emphasis on such aspects of society development as predictability, efficient, calculability, and control over uncertainty. The prevalence of technologies over human activities is also presented. These features, unfortunately, are typical for educational establishment and health care organizations in the United States. As such, McDonaldization in universities is associated with the emphasis placed on calculations and grades. Measuring and quantifying are among the major consequences of this process, replacing quality by quantity. The University of North Carolina is a bright example of how McDonaldization has affected education and a learning process. It is of particular concern of such concepts as calculability and prevalence of nonhuman technologies. Thus, the process of McDonaldization negatively affects the University of North Caroline because of the shifts from quality to quantity, and the excess emphasis on nonhuman technologies.

Literature Review

In order to understand what shifts have occurred to the educational establishment under analysis, it is essential to understand the major principles, features, and processes related to the concept of McDonaldization. Further, it is also essential to understand how the process affects individuals, educational establishments, and other social structures. The analysis of origins, theories, and shifts could be useful for understanding how students of the University of North Carolina could be affected.

Ritzer (1983) was among the pioneers who invented the term McDonaldization as an attempt to describe the processes in society. Specifically, the scientist introduces the changes from the viewpoint of rationalization, which is often associated with the principles accepted in a fast-food restaurant. Ritzer (1983, p. 372) asserts, “A society characterized by rationality is one which emphasizes efficiency, predictability, calculability, substitution of nonhuman for human technology, and control over uncertainty.” The concept of efficiency is confined to the process of rationalization that leads to developing new infrastructures, which could help individuals reduce time on different activities and enhance their effectiveness. Similar principles are enacted in fast-food restaurants in which time consumption is rationalized as well. Displacement of goals is a negative consequence of efficiency because it often prevents individuals from understanding the actual goals. Predictability is another important aspect of a rationalized society. There is a growing tendency in planning the events because people are reluctant to expect surprises. Therefore, in order to ensure predictability, society must pay attention to such aspects as order, discipline, formalization, systematization, and consistency. Third, the emphasis on quantity not quality is another consequence of social rationalization. In fact, the concept of quality is difficult to measure because there are a variety of metric tools. Since quality analysis requires time, it is more rational to focus on quantifiable measures. Finally, substitution of nonhuman technology is another threatening feature of rationalized society. Once again, the prevalence of nonhuman technologies increase predictability rate and makes the society more rationalized. Finally, all the above-features are directed at increasing control because rational systems should contribute to efficiency and minimize time. While deliberating on the concept of McDonalization, Ritzer (1983) still focuses on the issue of irrationality of rationality because some of the pitfalls and irrational activities are outcomes of rational systems. Since rational systems have many negative consequences for society, they could not be regarded as rational ones. The reason is that they reject the human nature and dehumanize all their activities.

It is evident that rationalization of society refers to all spheres, including business, healthcare, and even education. The latter is even more affected that it has been expected. The McDonalization of higher education creates a serious threat for students and teachers because the emphasis on quantifiable measures and development of nonhuman technologies deviates significantly from the traditional outlooks on an academic process. At this point, Garland assumes,

According to the logic, the university must provide a ‘service’ in which the student ‘consumer’ can measure the value of their ‘investment’ in quantifiable terms: from the ‘quality’ of the education they receive as measured in RAE and QAA scores to the ‘real world’ financial pay-off they can look forward to in the long team (2008).

Therefore, the importance of education in this context can be presented as a powerful means for developing instrumental objectives for entering the labor market.

The McDonaldization of higher education in terms of efficiency is often considered as strength. As such Pratt (2013) argues, “the push for more efficiency in higher education often leads to lower quality, and that reforms are being rushed into practice without convincing evidence in their effectiveness.” Therefore, some of the universities are more concerned with the effectiveness of online courses for reducing mony for sustaining facilities. As a result, scientists compare higher educational establishments with that of Wal-Mart networks in which education is assigned with such features as convenience, efficiency, and control. Additionally, there are also innovations, which make education more advanced. What is more, learning communication may encourage students to make them more addicted to digital devices to promote education (Gedeon 2013). The best way to proceed with the learning activities is to introduce the opposite direction.

In the studies by Madelyn and Ryan (2015), the conception of McDonaldization is represented as a process of transformation of educational establishments from knowledge-generated to rational-service institutions. Such an approach shows the extent to which the rationalization process threatens the quality of education. In addition, Dumbili (2014) focuses on the negative aspects of McDonaldizing in Nigerian universities comparing the process with the erosion of academic authority. Altbach (2013) highlights the pitfalls of rationalization by comparing the current learning systems with the traditional ones. Specifically, the researcher explains the problem through the challenges encounter by major academic publishers, “the corporatization and overexpansion of journals have created the environment for open access movement” (p. 117). As a result, librarians, administrators, scientists, and academics think it is essential to focus on the monopolistic and commercialized thinking because it allows promoting commercial success. The European educational establishments experience similar problems. Musselin (2014) focuses on the new dimensions of higher education due to the economic and political shifts. Hence, the connection between an educational system and political environment sheds light on the rationalized approach to the academic environment.

It should be admitted that rationalization is apparently the trigger of development for distant learning or e-learning. In this respect, Carroll (2014) dedicates the research studies to the analysis of the connection between the development of online learning and the rationalization of society. As such, the paper assumes that although there is a strong tendency of integrating high technology into e-learning, technology can have a negative influence on the quality of learning and educational experience, in general. As a result, such a tendency can become a destructing force in this sphere. Rolfe (2012) also states that universities resemble fast-food restaurants that destruct moral values and focus on some figures and statistics only. Therefore, this new tendency should be re-evaluated to define further routes of development. Finally, Lane and Kinser (2012) deliberate on technological models of education to prove that the current outlook on academic activities is not justified. Specifically, the author asserts, “MOOC’s play the centre against the periphery. They strengthen the ivory toward by enabling a few elite institutions to broadcast their start courses to the masses from the comfort of their protected perches” (Lane & Kinser 2012, p. 2). Furthermore, technological innovations are likely to change things in short-term periods. However, these advances do not always positively transform educational structures. At the same time, they also focus on the possibility of breaking the traditional monopolies of universities.

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In general, the review of literature proves that McDonaldization negatively affects universities and colleges because it introduces shifts in technologies. These changes minimize the integration of human resources. The prevalence of online learning deprives students of traditional, face-to-face communication. As a result, they experience challenges in socializing and interacting with each other (Lippmann & Aldrich, 2003). Further, the rationalization of education leads to the emphasis given to figures and numerical data rather than to quality of grades and assessment system of students’ performance. Therefore, the case study presented below aims to define how the University of North California is affected by the McDonaldization process.

Case Study Analysis: University of North California

The University of North Carolina is regarded as one of the most prestigious higher educational establishment with many students striving to become the members of the community. The teachers and education make everything possible to engage students in the active student life beyond the learning process, such sport clubs membership, voluntary activities, and artistic movements, health and physical welfare (UNC Charlotte 2015). At the same time, the university is currently under the influence of new technologies and rationalized dimensions. It particularly concerns the conception of knowledge. In particular, North Carolina State University has introduced the Open Knowledge Initiative, according to which, a course-management system is free and everyone could take those courses in public. The open source style implies that users can freely take compute codes and study the subject. Furthermore, it also means that teachers can choose different software models to carry out the scientific research.

The North Carolina University system is composed of 16 public institutions located all over the state, offering online programs and individual classes (Elearningnc 2015). It also proposes e-learning opportunities for working individuals and for those who is not able to study on a full-time basis. This system is highly development in the University, which is also the sign of rationalization. The very presence of the system shows the intention of educational officials tto get the maximum profit from the university programs and introduce new opportunities for advertising the educational establishment. As an example, the campus in Wilmington offers an online course and has a specific admission system for applicants who strive to receive the online certificate or degree. All these procedures are aimed at increasing the number of students. Hence, the emphasis placed on quantity does not always presuppose the quality of education because an additional course taken online implies the search for qualified and experienced teachers. These ones are ready to be engaged into online courses (University of North Carolina Wilmington n. d.). Furthermore, the attention is paid to the analysis of technological competence of teachers, which is also another challenge to the university’s reputation.

Hence, while considering the concept of e-learning as a strategic asset, the attention should still be given to the commercial and marketing purposes of the government. The UNC is currently operating in multiple institutions all over the state. However, the possibility of advertising education abroad introduces a new financial opportunity for the course (Chaloux 2012). It is also directed at efficiency and prevalence of nonhuman technologies which can replace teachers and educators. The development of course and lectures do not require teachers to explain the objectives. The independent learning, therefore, is a growing tendency, which does not always influence the quality of learning outcomes. Therefore, this issue should be reconsidered in case the UNC strives to maintain its reputation.


Apparently, the process of globalization has played a tangible role in the process of rationalization of society and education. The reason is that this phenomenon has triggered the development of the World Wide Web. In fact, the technological advance has made people less concerned with the traditional forms of education, which require visiting classrooms and communicating with each. In such a way, the crisis of socialization and the growing tendencies of isolated education create a new educational foundation which is aimed at commercial process and branding of educational establishment. These approaches are not efficient because do not contribute to the quality of the learning process. More and more students prefer online communication to group discussion in traditional classrooms. In such, such an experience can create new problems (De Vita & Case 2003). Specifically, people are less determined to interact with each other because it is a time-consuming process.

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The development of technologies is another importance feature which makes society more rationalized. In case of the University of North Carolina, internalization of higher education creates some financial and commercial benefits for the government. However, it does not ensure the quality of the learning process. The reason is that the shift to online learning required additional resources and professionals who would be able to render knowledge and information as effectively as they do it in the classrooms. Therefore, while considering the process of rationalization, it is also possible to examine the development of university identity through the perspective of branding (Lowrie 2007). In other words, the current educational policies are more oriented as expanding branding activities which enhance the reputation and popularity of the specific university. Such an activity is explained by the higher competence among other universities. However, North Carolina State University should be more concerned with developing efficient educational programs for students, as well as introduce technological support for students with disabilities, for example. Instead, the organizational development is oriented as an inappropriate field (Lowrie 2007). In order to avoid rationalization and maintain the educational traditions, these features should be reconsidered to adhere to the quality standards. Equal treatment of both on-campus students and distant learners is essential to make sure that all of them are fairly treated.

The emergence of an open course has brought in the new concept of knowledge exchange. Students can freely use online sources for individual education without any assistance of universities. On the one hand, such an approach is efficient because it enhances the quality of education and increases the students’ awareness. On the other hand, the globalization process has diminished the importance of universities as major educational institutions (Altback 2007). As a result, student culture has been shifted to online learning and replaced the traditional educational process. It implies a multi-dimensional development of an individual.


In conclusion, McDonaldization of society has a negative influence on the personal development. The reason is that it implies rationalization of all social activities. From the educational viewpoint, universities tend to transfer from quality-oriented strategies to quantifiable measures while enrolling and evaluating students. As a result of this process, the assessment system fails to adhere to the quality standards of learning, making an emphasis on technologies and diminishing the role of teachers and educators. Therefore, such as aspects as calculability, efficiency, and prevalence of nonhuman technology have a negative impact on educations which disqualifies the value of experience exchange during face-to-face interaction. Such a position can also result in the social crisis due to the social isolation and students’ obsession with e-learning opportunities.

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