Westernization through Commerce: Mcdonadization
Westernization is perceived to be the slow but sure process by which western countries, especially the English speaking, spread their way of life into other countries. Integration of the American and British way of life into foreign cultures has been perceived to mean westernization, where almost all aspects of culture in the foreign countries were being affected by the new culture. Recently, the trend seems to take a ne direction, where the American way of life or the so called Americanization, has taken the frontal stage. American culture is slowly being integrated into the cultures of other nations, including the less dynamic cultures like Islamic, Jewish, Chinese, Indian and even African (Global envision, 2007). The question is how does the American way of life get integrated into these cultures, and who are the players in this issue? One needs to understand the economic globalization, its origin and the pioneers of it. Companies, it seems, are the major players towards economic globalization (Global envision, 2007). The United States of America has several aspects in the world economy. American multinational companies are in operation in almost every region of the world. Among these companies is the McDonald’s- multinational company specializing food retail, especially fast foods (Keel, 2009).
It is arguable that MacDonald’s company has been the main agent through which westernization (especially Americanization) is integrated into the cultures of the countries it is in operation and even beyond.
MacDonald’s corporation was established in 1940 as a single restaurant at San Bernardino in California. The initial set up was a small fast food restaurant with the name of ‘Speedee’. However, the company was launched as a company in 1955, after it was franchised by Ray Kroc in Illinois (Keel, 2009). Later, Kroc bought the entire branches of the Speedee, and in 1967 changed its name to the MacDonald’s corporation. Currently, the corporation is in operation in multiple areas in the United States of America, with large number of chains worldwide. The company has been associated with spreading the American way of life in almost all countries it is in operation and even beyond. It has established itself as a leader in the international market, with branches in almost every western European nation, Russia, China, India, Pakistani, Korea, Singapore, Australia, the South Americas and there are signs that it may enter the South African market (Keel, 2009).
In all the countries that MacDonald’s open a chain; it introduces American foods, and attracts thousand s of customers from entirely all the generations. the younger generations in particular find the products of this company very appealing to their tastes and preferences, which may not provided by other companies in their countries (Global envision, 2007). Socially, the young people readily adapt new ideas and way of life and this has been the most effective way in which MacDonald’s has been making impacts on the foreign nations it is in operation. The company has been n very reluctant to provide products already found in the new countries, but continues to offer American foods in plenty (Keel, 2009). This argument would not make sense if the process of Americanization brought about by MacDonald’s is not elaborated with examples (Global envision, 2007).
One of the most important examples of MacDonald’s impact on foreign nation’s culture is Germany. Although it is a fact that Germany is a western nation which had some impact on foreign nations, it has been shown to be one of the most profitable overseas markets for MacDonald’s. It is the largest and the most Americanized nation in Europe, thanks to the heavy presence of Americans and American companies, as well as heavy presence of German companies in America (Global envision, 2007). Traditional German restaurants seem to have been disappearing in a rapid rate, and American fast foods industry seems to be taking over. Germans prefers American foods, especially fast foods. German owned restaurants have also adopted the American way of life, and are actively offering hamburgers and other fast foods similar to those offered at the MacDonald’s (Keel, 2009). Ronald Mc Donald is a product of MacDonald’s which has become so popular in Germany that it is currently being offered in children hospitals and schools. Similar to the American advertisements, most of the ads in Germany are directed towards children, where it seems to be more profitable. MacDonald’s in Germany has been operating its outlets in railway stations, gas stations and even in airports. This is the very case in America, and Americans seem to have exported this economic behavior to Germany, where it was previously not common. Of more importance is the tendency of American companies in foreign nations to go into agreements (Keel, 2009). For example, MacDonald’s has opened outlets in Wal-Marts chains in Germany, and this has spread to other nations. English has become a common language in places where MacDonald’s is in operation, and advertisements usually made in local language like German and also in English, thus spreading the American way of life beyond borders, alongside American movies, music and churches (Keel, 2009).
Another example is in India, China, Russia and Turkey where MacDonald’s is heavily in presence. In India for example, the company realized that it could make profits by offering non-meat hamburgers, rather it adopted culture of making vegetable hamburgers and other fast foods, but which appear in all ways similar to the American types (Global envision, 2007). Americans are in heavy presence in India, and the impact is even more, especially in any place that MacDonald’s is in operation. American music, film industry and language have become common in these areas (Keel, 2009).
These impacts are not always received positively by the people in these nations. For instance, American companies have been accused of developing negative cultures in Turkey, India and Chinese regions (Keel, 2009). For instance, the MacDonald’s has been accused of offering junk foods which are said to increase prevalence of diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure and even stroke (Global envision, 2007). Moreover, American films, advertisements and music are perceived as having obscene sights, especially in nations where strong traditional believes are still in effect.
These vices sometimes cause conflicts between the American companies and the cultures in the destination countries. It is a fact that it may cost the company a large portion of its sales, and thus there is need to prevent more of these cases (Keel, 2009). It could be prevented through adopting a careful approach, where the company becomes more sensitive of the prevailing cultural factors. For instance, they kind of food could be made in such a way that it satisfies the requirements in these countries, including reduction of fats and starch in the food provided (Global envision, 2007). It could also be important if the company adopts indigenous methods of preparing foods in the destination countries, removing obscene scenes in advertisement and training its employees on good human relations to avoid introduction of cultures perceived as negative in the country.
Global envision. (2007). Americanization or cultural diversity?: the effects of globalization on world cultures is much more complex than it seems. Retrieved from http://www.globalenvision.org/library/33/1658.
Keel, R. (2009). The Mcdonaldization of society: Introduction to sociology. Retrieved from http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/010/mcdonsoc.html