I came across the term “McDonaldization” coined by the sociologist, George Ritzer. It sent shivers of utter delight through my body. I ‘googled’ it eagerly. Would it mean what I thought it would mean? Happily it did. But no kudos to me … the word is so graphic that it is difficult to not understand what it symbolized.
Ritzer highlights four components: efficiency, calculability, predictability and control and all of society has been a recipient / victim of the McDonaldization process.
As an NGO, I have been writing proposals for our programmes in the last decade. Time and again I have been confronted with the straitjacket of this method – McDonaldization. Every donor asked for the same – quantifiable indicators, verifiable objectives, defined timelines and schedules, supportable expenses. It was getting more and more difficult to “fit in” with this. How could one calculate the growth of a village’s ‘awareness levels’? How do we define and verify the power-relations between the local, bureacratic, mafia and the communities? How do we predict how these relations would turn?
McDonaldization forced us more and more into taking up McDonald-like-projects. I found myself mouthing the same standard terms – participatory, gender-sensitive, sustainable, environment-friendly …. I couldn’t break away from the prescribed format, even if the situation warranted it.
And as predicted by Ritzer’s concept, with these four processes, a strategy which was rational within a narrow scope led to outcomes that are harmful or irrational.
I search for ways by which we can ‘de-Mcdonaldize’ ourselves.