'McDonaldization' based analysis of Russian social networks

March 27, 2020

The concept of McDonaldization was developed by sociologist George Ritzer and is used to explain rationalization processes happening in a person's life. The author describes his concept this way: "the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of recent". McDonaldization as a form of rationality has a spectre of advantages. By using it a person may become more disciplined and learn how to set goals and achieve them. However, rationalization turns a person into a resource, incorporated into various systems with the sole goal of making profit. It dehumanizes a person and makes him lose his or her personal treats, locking him into "Iron cage" of rationality. It affects such spheres as faith and religion, love and family, as well as relations with other people.

Such spheres of human relations as healthcare, education, voluntary work, family and socialization have been studied within the framework of McDonaldization.

Alexander Schekoturov, Head of the Social Analysis, Modeling and Risk Forecasting Laboratory explained:

"McDonaldylized agent is highly effective, its functionality is predictable and fully controlled by technology. However, as the aggregate gain of each component increases, the reverse reaction also increases - negative consequences, the main of which is the displacement of a person from the structure of barter relations".

The scientist's study showed that Russian social media is fully consistent with all signs of McDonaldization.

"It is important for the theory-based research to view a phenomenon in two notions: a global-local and "nothing" (pattern) - "something" (original). Depending on a position of a studied phenomenon within the notions, its properties, impact and scale of the McDonaldizating influence change".

Alexander Schekoturov has analyzed to social networks: Facebook and Vkontakte (?????????). He found out that Facebook may be viewed as "Growbalized" (a portmanteau of "to grow"+ "globalized") form of "nothing" and is the driving force behind globalization, while "VKontakte" is a glocal form of "nothing" which makes it have unique forms of both local and global level. Translator's note: Glocalization (a portmanteau of globalization and localization) is the "simultaneous occurrence of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies in contemporary social, political, and economic systems".

The researcher emphasized:

"The main practical purpose of my study is to comprehend the hidden sense and values that many digital-era phenomena have. For instance, it remains unclear to us that when trying to express our individuality, we still follow a certain behavioural pattern.This limits our creativity and only casts an illusion of individuality. The hidden idea here is that the more we are involved in the Mc-systems like social networks the more content it absorbed by form and quality by quantity. In other words, it's more interesting for such people to pretend to be working instead of doing real work, to get more likes instead of writing a difficult post. Also, it is dangerous to get turned into a "burger" in the McDonaldyzed environment. Among the threats are cyber fraud, cyberbullying, hating, trolling due to the fact that social networks encourage us to talk more about ourselves, and any private information exposed helps those who seek to harm us. A simple advice to avoid them is to ask yourself a question before posting anything: what do I want to get and could this information cause any harm to anyone?
The article presenting the results of "Social Media: new McDonaldyzed institute rising" research was published in "Vestnik" scientific journal of the People's Friendship University of Russia.

Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

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