Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm lovin' it !

I came across the term "McDonaldization" coined by the sociologist, George Ritzer. It sent shivers of utter delight through my body. I 'googled' it eagerly. Would it mean what I thought it would mean? Happily it did. But no kudos to me ... the word is so graphic that it is difficult to not understand what it symbolized.

Ritzer highlights four components: efficiency, calculability, predictability and control and all of society has been a recipient / victim of the McDonaldization process.

As an NGO, I have been writing proposals for our programmes in the last decade. Time and again I have been confronted with the straitjacket of this method - McDonaldization. Every donor asked for the same - quantifiable indicators, verifiable objectives, defined timelines and schedules, supportable expenses. It was getting more and more difficult to "fit in" with this. How could one calculate the growth of a village's 'awareness levels'? How do we define and verify the power-relations between the local, bureacratic, mafia and the communities? How do we predict how these relations would turn?

McDonaldization forced us more and more into taking up McDonald-like-projects. I found myself mouthing the same standard terms - participatory, gender-sensitive, sustainable, environment-friendly .... I couldn't break away from the prescribed format, even if the situation warranted it.

And as predicted by Ritzer's concept, with these four processes, a strategy which was rational within a narrow scope led to outcomes that are harmful or irrational.

I search for ways by which we can 'de-Mcdonaldize' ourselves.

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