Is Qualitative Research Becoming McDonaldized?
journal contributionposted on 20.09.2017, 10:22 by Alan Bryman, Alan Beardsworth
The contention put forward by Ritzer (1993) that the McDonald's restaurant has become the model for the extension of bureaucratic and Scientific Management principles to diverse areas of contemporary social life has seized both the popular and the sociological imagination. The term ‘McDonaldization’ has entered both academic and lay discourses, and its four component themes of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control are seen as embodying current manifestations of an inexorably self-extending process of standardization. Of course, Ritzer's thesis has not gone uncontested, and has been the object of a number of important critiques. One of the areas to which Ritzer and others have applied the concept of McDonaldization is higher education, but in doing so there has been a tendency to emphasize teaching rather than research. It is the primary purpose of this article to explore the utility of the concept of McDonaldization for the understanding of certain aspects of qualitative research in sociology. As such a sociological concept is being turned back onto the academic community to explore whether it can illuminate an aspect of the research process.