Monday, 16 June 2008

George Ritzer's "McDonaldization" of society thesis

Note to self: continuing today's theme of increasing rationalisation, have found some fascinating clips of Ritzer from the "McDonalidization" study page.

Interviews with George Ritzer
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Clip #1. Ritzer's inspiration for the book.
Clip #2. Ritzer responding to critics.
Clip #3. "The Starbuckization of Society."
Clip #4. Why students should read The McDonaldization of Society 5.
Clip #5. Importance of McDonaldization to students.
Clip #6. Resisting McDonaldization.
Clip #7. Future of McDonaldization.
Clip #8. Disneyization, Super Size Me, and Fast Food Nation.

I close with an excerpt from a piece I read about privacy and the Patriot Act in relation to librarians, but which I would argue has wider applicability to the technological storage of information, and the financial interests handling them. In each case it has to do with a different form of privatisation which is determining what counts as “privacy” and “public” access. Perhaps this trend could also be construed as a form of McDonaldization:
“The surveillance and secrecy aspects of the Patriot Act are notable, but they are of a piece with public and private trends that predate the War on Terror. Henry T. Blanke, following on the work of Daniel Bell, David Harvey, Sue Curry Jansen and others, argues that the privatization and subsequent disappearance of information from public view is an essential feature of late-capitalist development. Blanke articulates the problem this way: "With the growing economic prominence of information has come the encroachment of corporate capitalism into the public information realm and a concomitant distortion of information issues and policies to serve private interests. At stake is the future vitality of democratic public spheres of independent art, inquiry, discourse, and critique" (Blanke, 67). As information is increasingly commodified and entered into the realm of capitalist exchange, the library finds its core mission--to provide free and equal access to information--systemically compromised. Take, for example, the role of for-profit database vendors in limiting information access. Database vendors like Elsevier, EBSCO, and ProQuest include a provision in most contracts that has a striking similarity to the gag order included in the Patriot Act. Most contracts, negotiated on an individual basis, include a confidentiality provision that prevents librarians from sharing the terms of their contracts with one another. Because we are prevented speaking openly about the contracts we sign, we are limited in our ability to organize against other parts of our contracts that undermine systems of sharing and access. For example, contract terms often force librarians to agree that material contained in a database won't be shared via our traditional interlibrary loan networks, and sometimes even demand that the library conduct surveillance of other libraries by requiring regular reports of who requests articles from the database via interlibrary loan. While less sensational and immediate than the Patriot Act, these tendencies of capitalism reduce access to information in fundamental ways. As a profession, we have few strategies for resisting the tyrannies of the capitalist marketplace”.
Free Online Library: Librarians and the Patriot Act. by "Radical Teacher"; ... David Harvey, Sue Curry Jansen and others, argues that the privatization and - 31k -

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