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McDonaldization of Society: Principles and Advantages


McDonaldization is a phenomenon described by an American sociologist George Ritzer. By this term, the author means the process of domination of the principles of fast-food restaurants over the whole society in the U.S. and in other countries as well (Ritzer 20). It is characterized by several basic principles, which include efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control. McDonaldization has both advantages and disadvantages, and the author supposes that the society would never go back to its previous stage.

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Four Main Principles of McDonaldization

McDonaldization is based on four main principles that can be seen not only in the fast-food sector, but in other spheres as well. These are the very principles that have made the model of McDonalds successful. Efficiency, predictability, control, and calculability allow to offer the consumers a unified experience that they are looking for when entering a supermarket or a fast-food restaurant. Managers and workers function within McDonaldized organizations according to these principles.


The first principle is efficiency, which allows the customers to receive the service or product they need with the least amount of cost and effort. Ritzer defines it as finding the best way from one point to another (Ritzer 20). For example, the customers of McDonald’s have access to the quickest way from being hungry to being full. The model of McDonalds is used in different spheres, allowing the customers to receive products and services quickly and efficiently. It can be seen, for example, in the fields of online purchases, supermarkets, completing tax forms, buying new contacts, and so on. The steps of the cooperation between the company and its customer are predesigned and scripted.


Calculability is the assessment of outcomes based on quantifiable rather than subjective criteria. It refers, for example, to the portion or size of the product and the time of offering the service. In the McDonaldized systems quality is substituted by the notions of size. The companies and customers follow the principle “the bigger – the better” (Ritzer 20). A big, quickly delivered portion of food is a standard example of a McDonalds product. The customers calculate not only size of portions, but the time consumed, assuming that it is quicker to get to the fast-food restaurant than to cook at home.


Predictability means the customers can be sure that they find the same service or product whenever they go. McDonald’s restaurants are standardized, and the menu there is relatively the same in different parts of the world. In McDonaldized systems, employees obey to the corporate rules that unify their behavior. They know their standard scope of responsibilities, have a dress-code, and involve in typical activities. Their actions and words are highly predictable and resemble scripts.


Control is the fourth element of the McDonaldization phenomenon described by Ritzer. The customers are implicitly forced to do what the manager of the site expects them to. For example, everything in McDonalds is aimed at shortening of the process of satisfying the needs. The interior and ambience of the restaurant and such services as drive-throughs make the customer leave the place as fast as possible. The employees of McDonaldized organisations are required to do standard operations and are controlled more directly through trainings and management system. This control is increased and supported by the use of technologies, such as cameras and smart cards.

Social Advantages of McDonaldization

McDonaldization has a number of advantages that allow this phenomenon to be spread very effectively. For example, in McDonaldized systems, a larger proportion of customers has access to a wider range of services and goods. The goods become more achievable despite the geographic location. In the past, people had to buy products in different family-owned shops, which took a lot of time and effort. Now all the products can be found in one supermarket. Also, customers can buy the things they need as quick as possible. The quality of goods is unified, which creates the sense of comfort and stability in a seemingly hostile and rapidly changing world. Services and products are safer due to control and regulation. Finally, customers are treated similarly regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or class.

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Institutions Affected by McDonaldization

McDonaldization is gradually spreading from the sphere of fast-food restaurants to other businesses and institutions. For example, Ritzer refers to McDonaldized supermarkets, medical facilities, child care centers, and even schools of exotic dancing (39). Press is also becoming McDonaldized, since it offers trivial and inoffensive news which are served to the readers in palatable portions. Stories in such newspapers as USA Today are short, they start and begin on the same page. McDonald’s approach has entered the sphere of sex and pornography as well. The content on adult sites is divided into standard categories (Ritzer 39).

People find a mate through applications like Tinder. Ritzer notes that modern devices allow the users to get an experience of “disembodied sex” without even meeting each other in real life (39). Drugs, both legal and illegal, allow people to receive as many sensory information and pleasure as possible. Education is also influenced by McDonaldization, as the students get unified specialities, pass standardized tests, and can attend the courses online. All these examples show that there are no spheres that have not been affected by McDonaldization.


Thus, McDonaldization gradually spreads its influence over the whole world. This phenomenon is based on the principles of efficiency, control, predictability, and calculability. These principles make the experience of a customer unified and available in every location. People in the organizations act as if they were scripted, as part of a big organism. Thus, McDonaldization makes the world safer and more predictable, but at the same time dehumanizes people.

Work Cited

Ritzer, G. The McDonaldization of Society: Into the Digital Age. Pine Forge Press, 1993.

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