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Chapter 15 Sociological Theory.

There are a wide variety of sociological theories, and they can be grouped together according to
various criteria. One of the most important of these is the distinction between structural
perspectives and social action perspectives. This distinction will form the framework for the early
parts of this chapter. However, there is also an important distinction between modern and post-

modern perspectives in sociology. This distinction will be discussed in detail later in the chapter.
Structural Versus Social Action theories.
Structural : See society as a whole (Marx and functionalism)
Social Action : See Society as groups division (Weber)
Functionalism.
Functionalists see society as a system. This is a set of interconnected parts which together form a
whole. The basic unit of analysis is society, and its various parts are understood primarily in terms
of their relationship to the whole.
Functional Prerequisites The basic needs or necessary conditions.

The concept of Function.


The concept of function refers to the contribution of the part to the whole. The function of any
part of society is the contribution it makes to meet the functional in so far as they maintain the
system and contribute to its survival.
Examples : 1) A function of the family is to ensure the continuity of society by reproducing and
socializing new members.
2) A function of religion is to integrate the social system by reinforcing common values.

Emile Durkheim.
When Durkheim first published his views on society (1894) they were rejected. Members of society
are constrained by social facts, by ways of acting, thinking and feeling, external to the individual,

and endowed with a power of coercion*, by reason of which they control him.
* the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance. Or force/power to use
force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.
Beliefs and moral codes are passed on from one generation to the next and shared by the
individuals who make up a society.

Durkheim is free to treat society as a system that obeys its own laws. He is now in a position to

seek the explanation of social life in the nature of society itself


The causes and functions of social facts.
Durkheim argues that there are two ways of explaining social facts. In both cases the explanation

lies in society.
The first method involves determing the cause of a social fact, seeking to explain its origin. His
view : the determing cause of a social fact should be sought among the social facts preceding it

and not among the states of individual consciousness.


The explanation of a social fact also involves an analysis of its function in society, of its
contribution to the general needs of the social organism, of its function in the establishment of

social order. Durkheim assumes that the explanation for the continuing existence of a social fact
lies in its function, that is, in its usefulness for society.
Durkheim has a homo duplex model of human nature : he believes humans have two sides :
1) Selfish and Egoistical side (difficult to integrate).
2) The ability to believe in moral values.

The Collective Conscience and Social Stability.


Collective Conscience Where ideas are shared by the whole population.
Concensus Agreement on norms and values.
The Collective Conscience constraubs individuals to act in terms of the requirements of society.
Since The CC is a social fact and therefore external to the indivual, it is essential that it be
impressed upon him or her. Thus Durkheim argues, society has to be present in the individual.

Theory of Suicide.
Four Types Of Suicide : 1) Egoistic ; Results when a person is not fully integrated in a social group
and society. (Left Alone) This is especially for those people
who have no responsibilities towards others.
2) Anomic ; Anomie, without norms, old societies (pre-industrial) where it
is easier to have norms and values. This type happens more in
the modern world where it is hard to keep up with the norms
and values of society. Things change so fast and a person will
not know how to behave. It can happen during economic
depression and economic boom.

3) Fatalistic ; When a person feels they are restricted by the society. So


much discipline on them that they feel they wanna kill
themselves. They feel restricted by the society which they live
in. Prisoners may feel this way, living watched by others. What
to do, what to do not. When you feel that your life is not in
your control, it is in the control of someone else. Among slaves,
there is this type of suicide.
4) Altruistic ; When a person is well integrated and the person may take
their own life for others. (Do good for other people) Done in
the name of the community. Different Indian tribes, suicide
bomber (in their minds its good) for a cause, reason which
could be political.

Talcott Parsons
He is a more recent sociologist. He believed in Social Order, since he shared Durkheims views.
Parsons began with the question of how Social Order is possible. He observed that social life is
characterized by mutual advantage and peaceful cooperation rather than mutual hostility and

destruction.
Parsons argued that Hobbess picture of people pursuing personal ends, restrained only by sovereign
power, fails to provide an adequate explanation for social order. Parsons believed that only a
commitment to common values provides a basis for order in society.
Parsons illustrated this point by reference to social relationships, which at first sight would appear
to exemplify Hobbes view of people as self-interested and calculating. He examined transactions in
the marketplace. In a business transaction, the parties concerned from a contract. In order for the
conduct of business to be orderly, it is essential that contracts be bound by a system of

regulatory, normative rules.


Parsons was more optimistic, people could believe in things/value cos its better for everybody,
including themselves. Commitment for common values provides goodness. There should be a common
value.

Value Consensus.
Provides basis for unity and co-operation : Common goals.

Values What is seem to be worthwhile.

Goals Provide a direction for specific situations where there is cooperation (common goal) there
will be an instinctive.

Roles are a mean by which values and goals are translated into action.
In school there are varies roles, to further a goal ; that is education. Guards, cleaners, teachers,
students etc
Within roles, you have Norms ; go together. Define rights and obligations, Expression of values.
Ensure that the behavior is predictable and orderly. Everyone accepts his specific role.
Value Consensus forms the fundamental integrating principle in society.(Forms the basic principles;
Share a common identify.) If members of society are committed to the same values, they will tend
to share a common identity, which provides a basis for unity and cooperation.
From shared values derive common goals. Values provide a general conception of what is desirable
and worthwhile. Goals provide direction in specific situations.
Roles provide the means whereby values and goals are translated into Action. A social institution
consists of a combination of roles. For instance, a business firm is made up of a number of
specialized roles that combine to further the goals of the organization.

Social Equilibrium.
The main task of sociology according to Parsons is to analyse the institutionalization of patterns of
value orientation in the social system. When values are institutionalized and behavior is structured
in terms of them, the result is a stable system. Sociology should look at how values are kept in
society. (A Stable Society)
A state of Social Equilibrium is attained.
2 main ways in which Social Equilibrium is maintained :
1) Socialisation By means of which societys values are transmitted from one generation to the
next and internalized to form an integral part of individual personalities.
2) Social Control Discourages deviance and so maintain order in the system.
The processes of socialization and social control are fundamental to the equilibrium of the social
system and therefore to order in society.

Functional Prerequisites.
Parsons viewed society as a system. He argued that any social system has four basic functional
prerequisites :

1) Adaptation Refers to the relationship between the system and its environment. In order to
survive, social systems must have some degree of control over their environment. Where do people
live|? Economy given institution of its function.
2) Goal Attainment Refers to the need for all societies to set goals towards which social activity
is directed. Procedures for establishing goals and deciding on priorities between goals are
institutionalized in the form of political systems. The economy is regulated and directed by laws
passed by governments.
3) Integration Refers Primarily to the adjustment of conflict. It is concerned with the
coordination and mutual adjustment of the parts of the social system. Reducing the chances of
conflict. It is good that everyone feels included and not left out.
4) Pattern Maintenance Refers to the maintenance of the basic pattern of values,

institutionalized in the society. (Keeping of basic norms and values) Institutions that perform this
function include the family, the educational system and religion.

Social Change.
Parsons used the idea of the Indian society to illustrate how society hasnt changed. In India,
people are born into different Caste Groups from The Untouchables,; the lowest group, to
Brahim ; the highest group. This system is now against the law because you cant judge your future
or where you are born.
An Untouchable surgeon and an Brahim surgeon, both work the same way. It could only be that
the Untouchable surgeon gets hatred from the Brahim surgeon. Hatred only because they come
from different groups.
Functionalism has often been criticised for failing to provide an adequate explanation for social
change. If the system is in equilibrium, with its various parts contributing towards order and
stability, it is difficult to see how it changes.
The process of social change can therefore be pictured as a moving equilibrium.
This may be illustrated in the following way :
The adaptation, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance systems are interrelated; a
change in one will therefore produce responses in the others.

Example : A change in adaptation will result in a disturbance in the social system as a whole.
Parsons words : Once a disturbance has been introduced into an equilibrated system there will

tend to be a reaction to this disturbance, which tends to restore the system to equilibrium.

Social Evolution and Pattern variables.


Parsons viewed social change as a process of social evolution .

Pattern Variables A
Ascription

Pattern Variables B
Achievement

Status is ascribed; the type of family into which

Status is achieved through a persons own

a person is born determines it.


Diffuseness

efforts ; for example, trough hard work.


Specificity

People enter into relationships with others to

People enter into relationships with others to

satisfy a large range of needs; for example, the

satisfy particular needs; for example, the

relationship between mother and child.

relationship between a customer and

Particularism

shopkeeper.
Universalism

Individuals act differently towards particular

Individuals act according to universal principles:

people; for example, they are loyal to their

for example, everyone is equal before the law,

family but not to strangers.

so a policewoman would arrest her husband if

Affectivity

necessary.
Effective Neutrality

Gratification is immediate. People act to gratify

Gratification is deferred:for example, saving

their desires as soon as possible.


Collective Orientation

money to put a deposit on a house in the future.


Self-Orientation

People put the interests of the social groups to

People pursue their own interests first, rather

which they belong before their own interests.

than those of the social groups to which they


belong.

Parsons accepted that pattern variables A will not disappear completely even in the most advanced
societies. They are retained within the family, because they provide the emotional security that is
necessary from the successful socialization of children.

Social Differentiation
Social evolution involves a process of Social Differentiation. The institutions and roles that form
the social system become increasingly differentiated and specialized in terms of their functions.
This produces a problem of integration. As parts of society become more and more specialized and
distinct,it becomes increasingly difficult to integrate them in terms of common values.
Values become more general and diffuse, less specific and particular. In Western society, for
example, the highly generalized values of universalism and achievement can be applied to all
members of society despite the wide variation in their roles.

Universal standards of achievement are generally accepted and provide the basis for differential
reward and role allocation. Parsons admitted that his views on social evolution represented little
more than a beginning. However, they do offer a possible solution to the problem of explaining
social change from a functionalist perspective.

(Social Differentiation ; When institutions and roles, which form the social system, become more
specialized, in terms of their functions. Ex : Family become more separated from education than in
the past. Also family and economy ; dont produce everything you need to survive. Religion is
separated more and more from the state. However, as society becomes more and more specialized,
it will become more difficult to actually integrate people in terms of common beliefs and values.
Values become more general and less specific. This is done to solve the problem. Universal values
applied to everyone regardless of background.)

Robert Merton (1968)


Merton singled out and questioned the utility of three related assumptions that have been employed
by many functionalists. He analysed society like Parsons, and asked whether cultural and social
structures are well or badly integrated.
In 1949 questioned the functionalists.

1)The Problem of Functional Unity.


The first assumption was the idea that all parts of society are seem to be working together, for
the maintenance and integration of society. He disagrees with them. He says that Functional Unity
doesnt necessarily exist. Reasearch can prove this. The assumptions in one part of the system,
damages the other parts. But to what degree does this exist? A change in an institution may lead to
a few or no change in other institutions.

2)Postulate of Universal Functionalism.


Every aspect in society is important, and resresents something positive. He disagrees, and argues
that some parts of society are functional, dysfunctional and non-functional.

Functional ; can have a positive and a negative effect. But if these dont work properly, they

lead to Dysfunctional.
Non-functional ; has no effect, neither positive/negative.

Ex : The Barbie doll itself had its functional elements ; teaching children how to take care of other
people. (as a toy and a method to teach. Also, functional as a product) Dysfunctional ; because it
gives off the message that the perfect female looked like a Barbie doll. It gave the message that
beauty was found in a Barbie doll. It could lead to low self-esteem and anorexia in some woman.

Another Example maybe poverty. This normally we see as a dysfunction ; people problematic living.
To buy, and to live. It can have functions ; where you have poverty ; people willing to work. So,
poverty maybe attracted to new-businesses for employment. For rich people it is functional because
they feel better than them, but for the poor themselves it is dysfunctional.

3)Problem of Indispensability.
This assumption is that social arrangements are indispensable to society, such as religion. But,
Merton believes that these Functional Prereguisites are useful. These Functional Prereguisites
which they presume, arent that precise, they can be replaced and have the same effect (by
something else) Family isnt that important in society (as we know it) Religion can be replaced by a
political ideology.

Terms of effects and consequences.


Functional Prereguisites should not be presumed. He calls these : Functional Equivalents.
He is removing the idea that all parts of the system are functional.

Latent and Manifest.


So functions, can be either latent or manifest. Manifest can be showed, it is the intention. However,
latent is something which is unintended.
He looked at the Hopi Indians. The dance they do ; Raindance ; as a Manifest to make it rain.
Amongst the people while doing the dance, there is social solidarity occurring. That is Latent.

Criminology Studies.
Robert Merton saw that some values in society were so powerful that people commited crimes. He
saw that people had a value consensus within them. Most people, take these norms and values
seriously : 1) Success ; having more. How do people reach success? Mainly hardwork, and dont spend
everything. This is the most common road to success.
The first group of people he saw was Conformists. This is a very large group in society.
The second group are Innovation. These people like/accept the indicators of success in society.
These people want success so much that they will do anything for it. So they, reject the norms of
achievement. they do not spend their time studying or working hard. So they accept only the values.
So, they get into crime, and deviant means of becoming successful. Merton says that there is
pressure on the lower class of society. Maybe they havent gotten education, or the family name
(rich).
The third group ; Ritualists. They abondone the common goals of success. They have a job, usually
not prestigious or well-paid. But they arent going to commit a crime and neither are ambitious. They

conform to the rules of society but in the same time they reject the norms, goals and values of
society.
The fourth group ; Retreatists. These are the least common. These people abondone the goals of
society and the way of reaching them. These become addicts, alcohol drugs, homeless by choice,
they drop-out of society.
The last group ; Rebellion. People who reject the goals of society,but they want to replace them
with something else. They wanted to change the rules and create a new society. These people came
from a very educated background. Culture can generate deviance.

Functionalism A Critique Teleology.


Functionalism has been subjected to considerable criticism. Part of this criticism is directed at the
logic of functionalist enquiry. In particular, it is argued that the type of explanation employed is

teleological.
A teleological explanation states that the parts of a system exist because of their beneficial
consequences for the system as a whole.
The main objection to this type of reasoning is that it treats and effect as a cause. But an effect
cannot explain a cause, since causes must always precede effects. Therefore, the effects of
stratification cannot occur until a system of social stratification has already been established.

Assessing effects
Functionalism is on stronger logical ground when it argues that the continued existence of an
institution maybe explained in terms of its effects. Once an institution has originated, it continues
to exist, if, on balance, it has beneficial effects on the system.
It is extremely difficult to establish the net effect of any institution is beneficial to society.
Knowledge of all its effect would be required in order to weigh the balance of functions and
dysfunctions.
The problems involved in assessing the effects of a social institution maybe illustrated in terms of
the analogy between society and a physical organism. Since societies change rather than die,
sociologists are unable to apply similar criteria. In addition, standards exist in biology for assessing
the health of an organism.
In terms of these standards, the contribution of the various parts can be judged. There are no
comparable standards for assessing the health of a society. Fot these reasons there are problems
with the argument that a social institution continues to exist because, on balance, its effects are
beneficial to society.

Value Consensus and Social Order.


Functionalists such as Parsons, who see the solution to the problem of social order in terms of value
consensus, have been strongly criticized.

First, their critics argue that consensus is assumed rather than shown to exist. Research
has failed to reveal unequivocally a widespread commitment to the various sets of values
that are seen to characterize Western society.

Second, the stability of society may owe more to the absence, rather than the presence, of
value consensus. For example, a lack of commitment to the value of achievement by those at
the bottom of stratification systems may serve to stabilize society. Thus Micheal Mann
argued that, in a society where members compete for unequal rewards, cohesion results
precisely because there is no common commitment to core values (1974) If all members of
society were strongly committed to the value of achievement, the failure in terms of this
value of those at the base of the stratification system might aswell produce disorder.

Third, Consensus in itself will not necessarily result in social order. In fact it may produce
the opposite result. As Pierre Van Den Berghe noted, consensus on norms such as extreme
competition and individualistic laissez-faire, or suspicion and treachery or malecolence and
resort to witchcraft is hardly conductive to social solidarity and integration (1974)
Therefore, the content of values rather than value consensus as such can be seen as the
crucial factor with respect to social order.

Marxism.

Alienation.
Alienation a situation, whereby the creations that people made appeared to us as alien objects. A
thing created by humans themselves.
Example ; Religion, Human alienation. Man makes religion, religion does not make man. People give
religion loads of power. Humans assigned special powers to god.
Just like religion seems to control humans, material things control us.
Shopping people dont realize this Alienation. Its at its peek in capitalist society. People are
dominated by needs of profit. Workers see themselves as prisoners of the marker.
Alienation Powerlessness
1. From the act of working Capacity to work and to produce objects where you have no
saying.
2. From the products of work who takes control ; the owner of Production. 20c in an hour,
sell it 1. Give 1 to the worker when work worth 5.
3. From the other workers themselves workers themselves maybe completely against each
other. Produce more; give a bonus. They are being competitive against each other.

4. From human potential the human may have certain talents and creativity. They are tired ;
getting in front of the tv. They became passive and will not be able to show their creativity.
Solution No capitalism.
False Conscious ; believing everything is ok and fair.
Class Conscious ; they are loosing against the bourgeoise. They see clear their standing in society.
When the working class realize about their exploitation, they will unite and become a class in itself.

Social Action and Interpretive Perspectives.


Some social action theorists do not deny the existence of a social structure, but see this
structure as rising out of the action of individuals. Thus, Weber, who to some extent spans
the gap between structural and social action perspectives, acknowledges the existence of
classes, status groups and parties, but he challenges the view of Durkheim that society
exists independently of the individuals who make up society.
Symbolic interactionists accept the existence of social roles, but deny that these roles
are fixed and inflexible, or determined by the supposed needs of the social system.
Phenomenology and ethnomethodology represent a much more radical rejection of
structural perspectives. They deny the existence of any sort of social structure.

Max Weber.
The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) is widely regarded as one of the three
great founders of sociology, with Marx and Durkheim. Although Weber identified aspects
of the social structure such as class, parties, status groups and bureaucracies, all of these
groupings were made up of individuals carrying out social actions. Furthermore, it was
social actions that, according to Weber, should be the focus of study in sociology.

Social Action.
To Weber, a social action was an action carried out by an individual to which a person attached a
meaning; an action which, in his words, takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby

oriented in its course. Thus an action that a person does not think about cannot be a social action.

For example, an accidental collision of bicycles or involuntary cries of pain are not social actions
because they are not the result of any conscious thought process.
Furthermore, if an action does not take account of the existence and possible reactions of others,
it is not social. If a person prays in private, in secrecy, it cannot be a social action nobody knows
about it and the actor could not be taking account of the possible actions of others.

Social Action and Bureaucracy.


Webers general views on the relationship between institutions and social action can be illustrated
by his important work on bureaucracies. Bureaucracies might be seen as institutions that closely
control and direct behavior or social actions. Although Weber was aware of, and indeed concerned
about the power or bureaucracies in restricting human freedom, he nevertheless saw them as
composed individuals carrying out social actions.
Thus, he, believed bureaucracies consisted of individuals carrying out rational social actions
designed to achieve the goals of bureaucracies. Significantly, Weber saw the whole development of
modern societies in terms of a move towards rational social action. Thus, to Weber, modern
societies were undergoing a process of rationalization, as affective or emotional action and action
directed by custom and tradition (traditional action) became less important. Webers views on
bureaucracy will now be examined in detail.

Bureaucracy and Rational Action.


Webers view of bureaucracy must be seen in the context of his general theory of social action. He
argued that all human action is directed by meanings. Thus, in order to understand and explain and
action, the meanings and motives that lie behind it must be appreciated. Weber identified various
types of action that are distinguished by the meanings on which they are based. These include

affective or emotional action, traditional action and rational action.


1) Affective or emotional action-stems from an individuals emotional state at a particular
time. A loss of temper that results in verbal abuse or physical violence is an example of
affective action.
2) Traditional action-is based on established custom. Individuals act in a certain way because
of ingrained habit : because things have always been done that way. They have no real
awareness of why they do something ; their actions are simply second nature.
3) Rational Action-involves a clear awareness of a goal: it is the action of a manager who
wishes to increase productivity or of a builder contracted to erect a block of flats. In both
cases the goal is clearly defined. Rational action also involves a systematic assessment of
the various of the most appriopriate things to do.

Weber A Critique.

1) A central weakness of Webers sociology can be identified. He has been accused of


methodological individualism a criticism summed up by Davis Lee and Howard Newby
(1983) in the following way : Weber was willing to treat all social forces and pressures as if
they could be explained (or reduced) to the actions and purposes of seemingly isolated
individuals. The structural approaches examined earlier, particularly those of Durkheim and
Marx, were strongly opposed to any such view.
2) Webers views on bureaucracy and the importance of rationalization to the development of
modernity have been the subject of extensive discussion. As we will see below, writers such
as Ritzer have largely endorsed and developed Webers ideas. On the other hand,
postmodernists generally argue that bureaucratic organizations are no longer the dominant
institutions in contemporary societies. They believe that organizations have become much
more flexible, less governed by rules and less hierarchal.
3) From a different perspective, some interpreters of Weber have argued that there are
reasons to suppose that bureaucratic domination is not inevitable even within modern
societies. Thus Larry Ray and Micheal Reed (1994) believe the iron cage of bureaucracy can
be challenged.
4) According to Ray and Reed, such ends would only be regarded as legitimate if people had
agreed to them. There were therefore at least two directions in which modern societies
could develop : the iron cage on the one hand, and the expansion of discursive rational
legitimation on the other. In other words, there could be increasing emphasis on democratic
control of organizational ends. If Ray and Reed are correct, then perhaps pessimistic
interpretations of the consequences of bureaucracy maybe misplaced or exaggerated.

George RitzerThe McDonaldization of Society ; The importance of McDonalds.


George Ritzer (1996) supports the Weberian view that, far from dying out, bureaucratic
organization is becoming increasingly important. Like Weber, he argues that the drive towards
bureaucratization and rationalization is largely motivated by profit. Companies believe they can cut
costs and increase profits through rationalization. Even non-profit-making organizations, such as
charities, may adopt this approach to reduce costs so that they can survive and expand.
Ritzer argues that the model of bureaucracy has developed since the time when Weber was writing,
so that now, if anything, it is even more rationalized and impersonal. In some cases it is inhumane.
The contemporary model of rationalization is exemplified by the fast-food restaurant, which in turn
is exemplified by McDonalds. McDonalss has been enormously successful and has outlets in many
countries, including Russia and China, and even in Makkah in Saudi Arabia.
Ritzer believes the principles of rationalisation adopted by McDonalds have spread to many types
of organization. As well as influencing other important fast-food chains (such as B.K and Pizza Hut),
the principles on which McDonalds operates have been copied by local companies and organizations

throughout the world. For example, in Paris there are fast-food croissanteries, and in India you can
buy fast-food mutton burgers courtesy of a chain called Nirulas.

The Principles Of McDonaldisation.


Ritzer defines efficiency as the optimum method for getting from one point to another. To the
customers of McDonalds this means the best way of getting from being hungry to being full. In a
world in which many consumers are in a rush, but need to eat, fast food can offer the best solution.
Cooking at home and visiting traditional restaurants are inefficient because it can take hours to get
fed, whereas in McDonalds it takes minutes.
The products supplied in McDonalds are simplified so that generally they do not have to be eaten
with utensils. This reduces the cost of supplying utensils and having to wash them. Customers are
also put to work to speed up the process and cut costs. Thus customers have to wait in line to be
served rather than having a waitress/waiter serve them, and they are expected to clear their own
tables when they have finished eating.
In McDonalds the emphasis is very much on size (e.g. the Big Mac). However, to some extent it is
an illusion of quantity. The large bun surrounding a beefburger makes it seem larger than it really
is. The boxes used for fried get bigger towards the top, making them appear as generous
overflowing portions whereas they are actually quite small. The quality of the service is measured in
the terms of speed rather than customer satisfaction.
Quantification has also become increasingly important in education. In American universities,
students often rate courses using a scale from one to five. Academics are increasingly judged by
the quantity of publications they produce. In companies, time and motion studies have been used to
quantify the work done by employees, while in politics there is increasing emphasis on opinion poll
ratings.
According to Ritzer, the spread of computer technology has made Calculability an increasingly
pervasive feature of social life. Ritzer says :

Rationalization involves the increasing effort to ensure


predictability from one time or place to another. A
rationalized society therefore emphasizes such things as
discipline, order, systematization, formalization, routine,
consistency, and methodical operation, Ritzer (1996)
McDonalds make their restaurant chain predictable for customores by standardizing the interior
of the restaurants, the interaction between employees and customers, employee behavior and the
products themselves.
Although the restaurants are not identical, the colours, logos and golden arches are ubiquitos. Thus
you can enter a McDonalds anywhere in the world and find the surroundings familiar. To ensure

that McDonalds managers act predictably, they must attend Hamburger University, branches of
which are spread around the world. Even the professors are taught to teach from prepared scripts
produced centrally.
Eradicating unpredictability, inefficiency and uncertainty can be achieved through developing
greater control over workers. One way McDonalds has achieved this is by making employed skilled
workers who use their own judgement. Technology is used to limit the scope for individual initiative.
Workers do not have to judge when a cup is full- and automatic sensor switches off the flow of
drink from a dispensing machine. Indeed, the processes have been made so simple that one

university has built a robot that serves hamburgers at the campus restaurant (Ritzer, 1996)