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George Ritzers book, The McDonaldization of Society, explains McDonaldization as 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. This concept, at its core seeking to organize and increase productivity and profit, can now be linked to innumerable ripples blanketing our society with a range of effects, which are as controversial as they are widespread. The convenience offered by McDonaldization seems to have surreptitiously tiptoed into the homes of families, creating a new dimension for family bureaucracies in todays society. Divorce rates are up, child support is low, and an increasing number of children are growing up in broken families. With the ever-quickening revolution from hard work to the easiest and fastest way to get things accomplished, how long before children do not even know their parents, and instead are sent away at birth to begin training? It is important for people to realize that, while restaurants and other major distributors can afford to take shortcuts for increased profit and efficiency, relationships with other people rarely withstand such a luxury.
In the early 1900s, families would recognize one another across the state, often addressing others as, Bensons of This Town, or the Eatons from That Town. With the invention of the automobile and the growing railroad lines, it was easier for travel and relocation. By the 1950s, people were most familiar with the people living in their vicinity, colleagues, or classmates. Still, the dilution of personal relationships has become most recognizable in the last twenty years. My parents dont even know their next-door neighbors, and I barely see my father. An increasing number of children today live with one working parent, leaving little time to form a strong relationship.
Also in the past, parents having problems would try to work it out, or stay together regardless, just for the sake of their offspring. In my Neo-family, the parents are divorced. This in itself changed the dynamics of my family drastically. In addition, they both remarried. I never get along with Ticky, my fathers wife. And although I have lived with my stepfather for over six years, I have never had a real conversation with him. Similar to the way McDonaldization serves to improve conditions of the owners rather than the consumers, by making the decision to remarry, and by not having their new spouses participate actively in my life, my parents only reinforced the idea that they had made a decision more for themselves then for my brother and me. They no longer had a constant, predictable, and united role in our lives. By keeping their lives separate from us and each other, rifts were formed in the relationships within my family that to this day remain unreconciled.
This way of living was dehumanizing as well: switching houses every other weekend, visiting my father and to have him adopt Tickys daughter and leave us to do whatever we wanted while they all went shopping for her new car. And little can be said for Jonathan, my mothers husband, who is either too frightened to be a real part of the family or just does not care.
As for the future of the familial bureaucracy, the outlook seems bleak. Many divorced parents are not paying child support, which supports the idea that many people are losing touch with the true meaning of family and the word responsibility. People are moving away from their families, putting the elderly in nursing homes instead of living with them and caring for them at home with other family members. And with the Internet maturing at the rate of a fruit fly, people will be able to attain many things needed for daily life such as banking, investing; shopping for clothes, food, even education will be available in the living room of every home, and probably within the next twenty years. Relationships with other people may very well become as close to obsolete as possible without eliminating procreation. Computerized systems will handle the remainder of physical labor needed to supply the populations with the basics of life and more. Of course, anything is possible, making the absolute opposite equally likely.
At the heart of all of this is the realization that, although some aspects of a McDonaldized society seem somewhat appealing speed, convenience, and low cost the long fingers of this concept are touching parts of our lives that no one anticipated, and not always for the better. Would my life had been better had my parents stayed together, Ill never know. However, giving up and going for the easy-out has become all too frequent and acceptable. McDonaldization may be regarded as being worth its consequences for some people. Yet, when it comes down to Mcdonaldizing personal relationships by shrugging off responsibilities and acting on a self-serving basis, it will never be worth enough to those of us put on the back burner.
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