About seven months ago, I met an American guy who had arrived at New Zealand just a few days before. While exchanging our
sentiments (I am from Japan) on New Zealand and its culture, the guy told me how he was surprised to see the country is so
Americanised, mentioning McDonald’s as one of the examples. Now, in a different sense, this was surprising to me, too. I had
never had the idea that having McDonald’s is being Americanised. In fact, McDonald’s is nearly everywhere in the world so that
many people think it has already become part of their own cultures. But then the question arises: How did this come to be the
case? Here is a brief outline of its history (based on Hebert, 1997; McDonald’s Corp., 1997; Mclennan, 1996).
In 1937, McDonald’s was founded as a small local restaurant by two brothers, Maurice and Richard McDonald in Pasadena,
California. In 1948, the brothers then converted their barbecue drive-in with car hops into limited-menu, self-service drive-in, in
San Bernardino, California - the first advent of quick service restaurant industry. It is in April 1955, however, that the real
‘McDonald’s Corporation’ launched, by a salesman called Ray Kroc, who gained exclusive US franchising rights from the
brothers. Starting with Des Plaines, Illinois, McDonald’s rapidly extended its outlets first over the Chicago area, then the US and
eventually all over the world, including two largest restaurants in Moscow (1990) and Beijing (1992), both with 700 seats. There
are currently over 21,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries (and about 100 in New Zealand), and the 1996 year-end
systemwide sales reached 31.812 billion dollars, 59 percent of which came from the outside of the US.
The worldwide business of McDonald’s is not just a globalisation of its economy. In his book, ‘The McDonaldization of Society,’
the American sociologist Dr. George Ritzer (1993, cited by Allan, 1997) contends that it also represents the process of
rationalisation - “... the master concept of Max Weber’s analysis of modern capitalism, referring to a variety of related processes
by which every aspect of human action became subject to calculation, measurement and control” (Abercrombie, Hill & Turner,
1988, p.902, cited by Allan, 1997). According to Ritzer, McDonaldization can be understood in terms of the following aspects:
(1) Efficiency: To achieve a specific purpose, people tend to prefer the way that maximises the speed and minimises the cost.
However, in many spheres of society, such efficiency is defined for the sake of the industry or business, and people are
nevertheless led to believe that it is beneficial to themselves (Allan, 1997; Keel, 1997). Some examples include, ATM, self-service
petrol, or more recently, we began to serve drinks for ourselves in certain fast food restaurants.
(2) Calculability: This is the emphasis of the notion that the more, the better, as well as the faster, the better (Allan, 1997;...