Mcdonaldization and Disneyization: Speed vs Spectacle

Cheap. Fast. Efficient. As argued by Sociologist George Ritzer, Mcdonalization refers to the blurring of boundaries between the principles of fast food restaurants such as Mcdonalds and everyday life in “American Society as well as the rest of the world.” ( Ritzer, 1993. pg 1) Its franchising model consisting of efficiency and standardisation has been globally undertaken across a wide range of sectors including eduction, work, leisure centres, airlines, and essentially any business that is privatised. The fast food restaurant has triumphed in success since its opening in the 1940’s, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries, adopting an in- and-out routine for customers.

There is a level of predicability when a customer enters a Mcdonald’s. The space; staff are in uniform, table service is eliminated and staff are trained via a script. The business model is irresistible as it gives the user the optimum method of eliminating hunger, quickly and efficiently.  Other institutions have adopted this this method of promising quick results for the fast paced modern consumer such as quick weight loss results, or products that require minimal effort needed to complete a task. Secondly, it is good value for money, offering a “service that can be easily calculated and quantified.” ( Ritzer, 1993. pg 5) Essentially, more for your money, quantity over quality. Thirdly, Mcdonalds also offers consistency and predictability. When a user visits a Mcdonald’s abroad , they know they’ll be eating exactly the same hamburger as they would be in their hometown. Unconsciously all these factors mean that consumers eat quickly and leave, essentially engoraged the consumer to get their food and leave as quickly as possible.  This is hyper efficiency.

In contrast, Disneyisation of society and the economy encourages the consumer to spend as much money as possible by dominating one singular space, while also providing the user with an experience, encouraging the user to stay for long periods of time. An example of this would be a theme park such as Disneyland, where there are a multitude of different activities for consumers to participate in. This is otherwise known as hybrid consumption where the lines between the different consumerist activities become so blurred they begin to ” become increasingly blurred to point that they almost collapse.” ( Bryman, 2004. pg 55) Disneyland is carved specifically to encourage consumption and drive sales, through hybrid consumption, visual merchandising, performative labour and theming. This includes themed rides, restaurants, meet and great with characters, novelty gift shops, themed hotel rooms, character performances etc. Essentially, anything that contributes to the selling of the brand; encouraging the user to stay for an extended amount of time because the longer they stay the more they spend. It all contributes to the visual spectacle, an experience,  that is throughly regulated.

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References:

  • Ritzer, G. (1993). The McDonaldization of society. 1st ed. California: Pine Forge Press.
  • Bryman, A. (2004). The Disneyization of Society.  London: Sage.

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