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Towards comprehending the self and society

With the emergence of the globalisation phenomena and the constant change in perspectives, understanding society has become essential. The outcomes of being wellrounded of the social are fundamental, ranging from understanding our social standpoint, to recognising the impact of the global community and intelligently coping with it. Theorists have examined the sociological concepts of everyday life and coined major theories, facilitating the comprehension of society and its impact on individuals. In the attempt to dive into the inner-circle of the self and sail the surface of the bureaucratic society, this paper aims at incorporating Ritzers McDonaldisation thesis and Cooley's looking-glass self theory. Through the strategic analysis of overview, application, and criticism, the paper shall explore how the McDonaldisation paradigm helps people understand their bureaucratic culture. Moreover, it will highlight how the self is capable of being isolated from the society subsequent to the call for individualism. McDonalds success became an inevitable spark in the bureaucratised society. According to Macionis & Plummer (2012, p. 191), McDonalds operates over 33,000 restaurants around the world, and its annual revenue in 2008 reached $22.79 billion. Nonetheless, the work of sociologist George Ritzer takes this simple fact to another level. His proposal of the McDonaldisation thesis suggests that the ideology that lies beneath McDonalds is gradually coming to govern the entire society (Ritzer 2004, p. 1). Although the concept was first initiated from the principles of the fast-food industry, it expanded to consider education, agriculture, leisure, sex, politics and family. According to Ritzer, McDonalds encompasses four major dimensions. Efficiency marks a highlighted feature in the fast-food industry. The rapid service, drive-through and instantaneous satiation seem quite satisfying for busy people (Ritzer 2004, p. 12). Calculability is another element of McDonaldisation; it is based upon equalising quality and quantity and eating more for fewer bucks. Striving to save time makes people favour a rich, instant serving of a Big Mac with drinks and fries over preparing a homemade healthy meal (Ritzer 2004, p. 12). One principle people praise in McDonalds is predictability, where the fries and burgers taste almost the same all around the world. This marks the result of the control through nonhuman technology, where the "manufacture" of fast-food is mediated by machines replacing people. Even when McDonalds relies on its employees, they are compelled to perform repetitive tasks in a particular method (Ritzer 2004, pp. 13-14).
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Peoples adherence to these elements assured the capability of McDonaldisation to control many sectors of the society. InThe postindustrial society the McDonaldisation paradigm has been successfully applied into education. Education systems across the globe are criticised for the heavy reliance on standardised testing, where it is at the expense of learning quality and the development of creative abilities (Filippov 2011, p. 4). Effectiveness in the "McEducation" is modeled through memorising, passing examination, and obtaining a certificate (Filippov 2011, p. 4). Filippov argues that society targets the speed of the process rather than the engagement of students in learning-applied activities. Education is calculated through the quantitative as opposed to the qualitative outcome of knowledge acquisition. The adoption of grading systems to measure a student's competence slowly shifted the aim from exploring knowledge to striving towards a score (Filippov 2011, p. 5). Control has also been exercised in McEducation, where tests are evaluated through technology. Computers not only take the roles of educators, but also inaccurately reveal a student's mastery level of a certain subject (Filippov 2011, p. 6). Filippov goes on to argue that the learning materials provided assure predictability of the outcome while diminishing individuality. Without a doubt, the result is witnessing regiments of graduates, who have undergone the McEducation assembly line, meeting the job opportunities in the capitalised market (Filippov 2011, p. 6). In conclusion,if Ritzers and Filippovs ideas are accepted, then McDonaldisation is capable of exploiting systems in the interest of bureaucracy over people. Extraordinary success tends to overshadow the flaws of McDonaldisation. However, being aware of these flaws should help us recognise and act upon the impact of McDonaldisation on the social world. The fifth principle of McDonaldisation, irrationality of rationality, faces inescapable criticism. In the matter of the McDonaldised McDonald's, extensive use of chemicals to grow uniformed potatoes severely harms the environment (Smart 1999, p. 15). Smart argues that maintaining the predictability of French-fries whilst abusing nature is downright irrational. Furthermore, in their book, Services Marketing Management, Peter Mudie and Angela Pirrie show the impact that the McDonaldised organisational systems have on employees and customers. The merciless, robotic routines employees practice can gradually dehumanise them and strip away their sense of identity (Mudie & Pirrie 2006, p. 11). Moreover, the repetitive, uncreative tasks may result in psychological stress and frustration that might cause chaotic behaviour against customers
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(Mudie & Pirrie 2006, p. 12). Nonetheless, people are capable of resisting McDonaldisation in order to lead a vivacious, energetic life. Macionis and Plummer argue that Avoiding daily routines, computerised short-answer tests, fast-food diners, and "McChild" care centres every once in a while are actions that can maintain a vigorous lifestyle (Macinois & Plummer 2012, p. 192). The search for the self is thought to be a critical link in human life. The term "lookingglass self" was coined by American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley, where he proposes the construction of the self in three principles: the visualisation of our image to a significant other, his verdict of that image, and our self-sentiment of either satisfaction or shame and modification of a certain characteristic (Cooley 1964, p. 184). Put simply, the self-idea is constructed out of the reflection from a mirror held by a "valenced" other (Hensley 1996, p. 293). The philosophy behind the looking-glass metaphor is the tendency for individuals to target conformity to the expectations of others. We tend to absorb ample verbal and nonverbal responses and fabricate a "mosaic" self-concept (Hensley 1996, pp. 295-296). Nonetheless, accurate or inaccurate interpretation of one's projected self is not a final determinant of who one is. The looking-glass self is part of our everyday life, established in childhood. This means that monitoring others' reactions is an enduring process leading to a continuous self-modification (Henslin, Possamai, & Possamai-Indesedy 2011, p. 55). People have a propensity to conform to their projected image by important people in their lives, while giving less credence to an image reflected by complete strangers (Hensley 1996, p. 296). In a materialistic explanation, we tend to analyse our image, accept it, or modify it while facing a polished, unbroken mirror. The mirror, in this case, is a significant other whom we have an affiliation with, such as family and friends. While the mirror we choose to face is not faultless at any given time, a person would rather not gaze into a noticeably broken one. To exemplify, one would give more weight to the perception of his professor, rather than the perception of a drug-dealer. In addition, the higher the level of intimacy between people, the more likely the opinions would meet consideration. For example, a child is more likely to build his self-concept upon his parents' or siblings' reflections, rather than his playmates. However, different age groups prefer responses from different agents of socialisation. Studies show that teenagers tend to rely heavily on their peers' mirror image to construct their personalities (Shepard 2010, p. 95). Our misinterpretation of another's imagined opinion has consequences in the looking-glass process. Shepard (2010, p. 95) explains how a girl could potentially harm her well-being as
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a result of presuming that others perceive her as fat. Ultimately, the looking-glass process can weaken or strengthen one's self-esteem depending on?. It also helps us recognise the types of people we are influenced by in our social circle. The third principal of the looking-glass self indicates how the recipient has the ultimate decision or reaction to his mirror image (Cooley 1964, p. 184). The idea expressed by Hensley (1996, p. 298) is simple, yet very logical: the looking-glass self (the mirror) is an infinite source of self-analysis permanently available to its owner. Thus, we can conclude that once a person passes childhood or arrives to an adequate stage of maturity, he is no longer in desperate need of the looking-glass process. What supports this notion is that individualism has become the cultural logic of modernity (Meer 2011, p. front cover). In a world where individualization is a key process of modernity, Lacking acceptance by others is not a major issue, as it does not deprive people from basic survival necessities. One tends to favour independent judgments and embrace sole respect to the sovereignty of ones mind. In conclusion, sociological theories are a useful method to observe society through collective ideas. The McDonaldisation thesis, although initiated from a fast-food restaurant, is perceived as the governor of most social structures. I would argue, along with Filippove, that The elements of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control undoubtedly manage our education systems. Although the outcomes are beneficial to the capitalised market and assure the stability of the economy, they severely diminish creativity and imagination. Moreover, working in a McDonaldised system robotises people and raises their levels of stress and frustration. In a similar vein, recognising the effects of the global community is the cornerstone for an individual to take control of characterising the self. The looking-glass self process is ongoing and critical through childhood. However, within a society that embraces individualism, the need for it is less fundamental. Nevertheless, slight change of setting requires incorporating this mirror for temporal change in behaviour. Eventually, upon learning sociological theories, one is capable of resisting or conforming to society.

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Reference list:
Cooley, C.H 1964, Human nature and the social order, Schocken, New York. Filippov, R. I. 2011, McDonaldized education: is it the right kind for Russia?, Russian Education and Society, vol. 53, no. 5, pp.3-11 Hensley, W.E. 1996, 'A theory of the valenced other: the intersection of the lookingglass-self and social penetration', Social Behavior and Personality, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 293-308 Henslin, J. M., Possamai, A & Possamai-Indesedy, A 2011, Sociology: a down to earth approach, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest. Macionis, J.J & Plummer, K 2012, Sociology: a global introduction, 5th ed., Pearson, Prentice Hall, New York. Meer, Z 2011, Individualism: the cultural logic of modernity, Lexington Books, Plymouth. Mudie, P & Pirrie, A 2006, Services marketing management, 3rd ed., Elsevier, Burlington. Ritzer, G 2004, The McDonaldization of society, Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, California. Shepard, J.M. 2010, Cengage advantage books: sociology, 10th ed., Cengage Learning, Wadsworth. Smart, B 1999, Resisting McDonaldization, SAGE Ltd., London.

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