Blue-collar new norm America: Dadio’s handy manual to break workers’ spirit – McDonaldization of the work force equals…, McJobs

18 July 2013

Blue-collar new norm America: Dadio’s handy manual to break workers’ spirit – McDonaldization of the work force equals…, McJobs

This entry was posted on 7/18/2013 1:29 AM and is filed under Broken spirit.

Around 1993 sociologist George Ritzer coined one of my favorite phrases. He came up with the phrase, “the McDonaldization of Society.” I wish I had thought of it. Basically, it uses the McDonald’s template of having all the prices on the keys, giving the workers set steps to wait on customers and make the food, and even lighting up the pie keys on the cash register to remind the counter-person to ask if the customer wants dessert.  The workers are to always be polite and quick but only polite enough so as not to take too long for each customer.  Around 1991, Robin Leidner did a field study of McDonald’s and actually worked the job and then wrote about it.  She found much of the same rituals that Ritzer found.

The movie Falling Down took a shot at the ritualism trend.  Michael Douglas played a laid off troubled character that had a bit of a dangerous tantrum when he could not get his hamburger the way he wanted it.  He went into Whammy Burger and ordered breakfast.  But their ritualistic computerized system had already switched to lunch.  When the tormented character agreed to a hamburger, it looked nothing like the photo brushed picture on the wall.

Now all this is interesting and well and good except what if this robot type ritualized service spills over into the greater society?  Wall-Mart stores all basically look the same.  Cruise ships herd you about on the ship to their events and activities – one often does not even know they are on water.  Suburban lawns are all cut the same and the houses only differ in design slightly, often for blocks or even miles.  Stop and go lights are all set out of sync to facilitate “traffic calming” so none of us get anywhere too fast.  Many retailers make you check yourself out at the cash register.

Old dead sociologist Max Weber called this “rationalization.”  That’s a $50 academic word meaning we all muck about like robots.  O’l Max also coined the term the “Iron Cage” of ritual.  Believe it or not he came up with that over a hundred years ago.  I believe the cynical term is best used when bureaucracy is so ritualized in its inept rules that it is to the detriment of an individual or even a whole group.

The McDonaldization of Society compliments a derogatory little gem called “McJob.”

I first ran into this nifty and handy little condescending term in the book, Generation X by Douglas Coupland.  It has a publication date of 1991.  Here is the definition used in the book:

“A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector.  Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one.”

There is just something pleasantly cathartic about this book and all its quirky little made-up terms.

But then it dawns on me this crass observation is a true reality to millions of beleaguered blue-collar workers in new norm out-sourced America…,

…., just another current systemic work condition to…, break workers’ spirit.

Note: This blog “Blue-collar new norm America: Dadio’s handy manual to break workers’ spirit” – book version Category is a work in progress. These original vignettes are being edited for book form. Go to the Cooldadiomedia Web site and the Broken Spirit Page for an ordered chronology of the book vignettes (chapters).

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