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Applying Karl Marx To Ritzer’s Mcdonaldization Of Society Essay, Research Paper

Tim Horgan

Cont. Soc.


Karl Marx believed that a major revolution was in the future for the Western world. Exactly how far in the future remains to be seen, but many would argue that capitalism is as strong as it ever was and no class conflict will occur. I believe the reason that no major conflict has yet occurred can be attributed to Weber?s idea of bureaucratization as described in The McDonaldization of Society. In bureaucracies, every movement by an employee is a calculated one. There is a rule for every situation and every employee must abide by the rules. Doing this allows bureaucracies to be extremely large yet efficient, and more importantly, profitable.

These systems, however, dehumanize people, and that is part of what Karl Marx fears. When workers are dehumanized and alienated they become restless and unhappy. Today, however, it is not only the lower class laborers who are being affected. White-collar workers, as well, must fall into line when working for a large corporate bureaucracy. It has become the way of life for almost everyone. Work is work. Everyone has to fall into line.

Since the distinction, now, between those workers alienated and those who are not is a very blurred line, a class conflict would be difficult to see coming. Another reason that this conflict may never come is because of the positive sides of a bureaucratic world. In this world, many unskilled workers can get a decent job with a decent amount of responsibility attached to it and make a decent pay check. All they can do is decent, but that is better than not being able to do anything. Secondly, because of the bureaucracies and the good wages they provide for unskilled workers, many more products are available to all people. The bureaucracies allow for mass production of many products and with many people making a steady paycheck, they can afford something that would be extremely expensive without bureaucracies, such as televisions or automobiles.

It is still to early, however, to count Karl Marx out. The ?workers as robots? situation which occurs in the workplace can still be enough to fuel a class conflict or revolution, but the many changes that have been made to society since the time of Marx have been enough to push it back. The one main reason I believe that a social upheaval is still possible is because those people who are on top of the bureaucracies tend to stay on top, while those in the bottom stay on the bottom. It is possible, in this day and age, for someone to work their way up the ladder and be successful but it is much easier for someone to be simply brought to the top and then stay there. In bureaucracies, hard work is often rewarded, as well it should be, however, if hard work does not meet with rewards, then that employee will probably not work as hard next time. Thus, the bureaucracies suffer, and when they do those on the bottom will feel it first. That could very well be the first shot of the revolution.


Ritzer, George. The McDonaldization of Society. Pine Forge Press. 2000

Stones, Rob. Key Sociological Thinkers. NYU Press. 1998

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