Essay The Mcdonaldization in Health Care
1865 WordsDec 19th, 20058 Pages
According to George Ritzer, bureaucracy completely dehumanized the social institutions in America. He sees the bureaucracy as having four components: efficiency, predictability, control and quantification. He terms this dehumanization of an institution as "McDonaldization". One of the most prevalent examples in modern society is the health care institution. In the past, health care was more simplistic in nature. House calls were not unheard of, and doctors knew all of their patients and their families on a personal level. The doctor who delivered your parents would deliver you as well as your future children. Follow-ups were quite normal; doctors were concerned with your progress for their own peace of mind. It is only recently that the…show more content…
Some pharmacies can have prescriptions delivered to your home, much like a machine would. Predictability is a big characteristic in the McDonalized healthcare system. A simple visit to the doctor now has become formulaic. First the receptionist fills out the necessary paperwork and informs the doctor you have arrived. Then you wait until a nurse comes into the waiting room and informs you that doctor will see you now. Most times this is not actually the case, in actuality it means that the nurse will now take your temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure. Like a perfect automaton, the nurse proceeds to measure vital signs and note her findings with as little human interaction with you as is possible. After the nurse has completed her tasks, you must wait until the doctor pops his head in, nurse's records in hand. The doctor then proceeds to ask you some variation of the stock doctor question: "What seems to be the problem today?"
You then inform the doctor of all your symptoms, which he processes and eventual comes up with a diagnosis, much like a computer would. The doctor then either gives you a prescription or advises you to "stay in bed and drink lots of fluids", another stock doctor phrase. If it is necessary according to the diagnosis made, the doctor may decide further tests to be necessary. If further treatment is required, you basically must go
"McDonaldization" is the application of the principles of the fast food industry to other industries, organizations, and sectors of society. This concept is an extension of Max Weber's concept of rationality and is characterized by four principles: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. For many, the concept of McDonaldization is so pervasive that it is difficult to see that it is a departure from the way that things have been done in the past or even the extent to which it characterizes modern life today. Although, in theory, McDonaldization makes for more efficient processes that support today's businesses and bureaucracies, it can also lead to a condition known as the "iron cage of rationality," which Weber posited could eternally trap individuals as they moved from one rational organization to another, and could eventually reduce the ability of human beings to use their creative and imaginative powers and their ability to do things for themselves.
Keywords Bureaucracy; Capitalism; Culture; Economic Development; Ethnicity; Globalization; Industrialization; McDonaldization; Postindustrial; Postmodernism; Rationalization of Society; Religious Nationalism; Society; Turnover
Social Interaction in Groups
Many of us have visited American amusement parks intended to give visitors a taste of world cultures. The park, divided into numerous villages, intends to show the highlights of a particular ethnicity and its concomitant culture, including China, Germany, France, and Great Britain. Restaurants in each area serve the food of the region and souvenir shops sell imported goods. Entertainment ranges from panoramic 360 degree movies showing the variety of the national landscape to colorful native dances. Although it all sounds good in theory, in reality it is quite disappointing. The American interpretation of native foods ("reinvented" to be more compatible with American tastes and expectations) pales in comparison to the "real deal" as the assembly line interpretation of native customs proves to be less than accurate.
American sociologist George Ritzer posits that such experiences are the result of "McDonaldization," or the application of the principles of the fast food industry to other industries and sectors of postmodern society. McDonaldization affects not only the food industry (or amusement parks) but can be seen reflected in the standardization of many of the venues. Businesses such as big-box stores, shopping malls, cruise ships, and sports stadiums are common examples of enterprises that have been McDonaldized to make them highly rational organizations that offer workers low pay and customers ease, convenience, consistency, and familiarity. For example, although the stores may differ from venue to venue, one can walk into most shopping malls today and expect to see the area anchored by two or more major department stores (which themselves are McDonaldized so that a customer familiar with one store can easily find the same goods in the same location in another store), linked by smaller stores selling specialty goods (most of which are also McDonaldized replicas of other branches or franchises across the country), and a somewhat centralized food court (that serves the same food in all their branches so that customers can eat the same familiar hamburger, pita wrap, or French fries whether they are in Bangor, Maine; San Diego, California; or Peoria, Illinois. However, McDonaldization goes far beyond this supposedly comforting sameness of familiar retail organizations and has been extended by some theorists to include the American educational system, the travel industry, health care, and politics, among other social organizations.
Max Weber's Rationality Concept
The concept of McDonaldization is an extension of Max Weber's concept of rationality. Weber observed that as society became more modernized, customs and traditions were replaced by rationally developed and efficient processes. According to this theory, modern society of the Western world was formed by two forces: capitalism and bureaucracy. Together, these forces operated to encourage the application of regulations and universal standards to make processes more efficient. Rather than allowing for individual differences and human variation, capitalism and bureaucracy work together to create superior methods that are more successful in the modern era than more traditional practices and approaches because they were rational. This, in turn, allowed rational systems to perform more efficiently. According to Weber's theory, bureaucracies mark the high point of modern social organizations because they are rational, using abstract, universal, and regular authority and standards. Weber believed that bureaucracies were technically superior to other forms of human organizations and would eventually become the dominant organizational form. He viewed the success of bureaucracies over other types of organizations as being due to a number of characteristics including the use of fixed offices, hierarchy, documentation, focus on credentials and training, and the implementation of universal standards that were applicable to everyone within the organization.
Weber predicted that as society progressed it would become increasingly characterized by rationality. This can be observed, for example, by the increasingly meticulous ways in which employees must work in order to interact with technology. The concept of McDonaldization is another example of this concept by which common processes are reduced to their elemental steps and made as rational as possible in order to improve standardization, efficiency, and productivity. However, Weber himself noted a potential problem with this trend. He warned that the "iron cage of rationality" could eternally trap individuals as they moved from one rational organization to another and that these structures would eventually reduce the ability of human beings to use their creative and imaginative powers and their ability to do things for themselves. In many ways, this can be seen as people increasingly become creatures of habit. For example, one knows the quickest route to school or work and tends to take that rather than alternative routes that offer the opportunity to see the beauty of nature, explore new areas, or even avoid high-traffic areas. In many homes, dinner is often a pizza ordered from a McDonaldized chain from which one can expect a certain quality, or from a microwavable box purchased in the frozen food section of the grocery store rather than from fresh ingredients that were creatively combined to take advantage of seasonal produce. Shopping malls with a standard set of national department stores are increasingly becoming the norm as local chains and individual boutiques are bought out or go out of business.
Ritzer's Dimensions of McDonaldization
There are for dimensions to McDonaldization as described by Ritzer.
- First, organizations operating under this paradigm are efficient so that processes move smoothly from start to finish along a streamlined path. For example, in fast food restaurants, each hamburger is made in exactly the same way starting from the weight and shape of the meat patty and ending with the way each completed and dressed burger is wrapped before being presented to the customer. In fact, in some organizations, the process becomes so the streamlined that the customer performs all the work (through the use of an automated teller machine at a bank instead of a live teller). In many ways, this streamlining of processes is reminiscent of scientific management in which jobs are analyzed and broken down into their component tasks using a time and motion study to determine the most efficient way of performing the tasks.
- The second aspect of McDonaldization is calculability or the emphasis on the quantitative aspects of the products sold (size, cost, time to manufacture). For example, at McDonald's restaurants, managers are required to account for all supplies and ingredients, including keeping track of the cubic inches of ketchup that are used each day. Similarly, employee manuals specify how long tasks should take down to the level of the second. Ritzer argues that this aspect of McDonaldization emphasizes quantity over quality and that the success of McDonaldized organizations and processes is due to the speed and consistency of product delivery rather than the quality of the product itself.
- The third distinguishing feature of McDonaldization is predictability. This characteristic means that customers are assured that the product that they receive will be identical no matter where they order it. Because of predictability, a customer can order a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Miami, Florida, and expect (and receive) the exact same product as if it were ordered in...