Wednesday, October 7, 2015

McDonaldization of Indian slums

“McDonaldization is the process by which the principles of fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society, as well as of the rest of the world.”
The five basic dimensions of McDonaldization process are efficiency, calculability, predictability, control, and the irrationality of rationality (Ritzer, 1996).

In India, the influence of fast food is more profound in the big cities and more subtle in small cities. In spite of the criticisms by nutritionist and from other spheres, there has been a widespread of fast food over the past few years. The public seems to turn a blind eye to it.  McDonalidization has become global and it has even emerged in  the sums of India.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the size of India’s fast food industry is expected to double in between 2013 and 2016, to $1.12 billion. This exponential growth of fast food industry has caught attention lately. The most worrying fact is that fast food is replacing the staple food like dal, rice and vegetables. What are the possible reasons for this increasing growth? If we juxtapose this enormous growth of fast food industry with the five dimensions of McDonaldization, it reinforces the fact that fast food is less time consuming, the control on the quality and quality of food,and its easy availability.

Ritzer in his article mentions the growing passion for Westernization as one of the reasons for McDonaldization. But this does not seem to be the reason for the growing popularity of fast food in the Indian slums. These are the people who has to go hungry because they simply cannot afford food. A packet of maggie noodles which costs rupees ten then seems more appealing compared to a meal of rice, dal and vegetables which would approximately cost three times more. For the people from slums of India fast food does not remain to be as much of a choice. The inability to afford a homemade meal of rice, dal and vegetables has also let to the spread of fast food in their lives.

Drawing this from CCA approach, I think the food insecurity in the slums, one of the serious problems of this section of the society, leads to their alignment towards fast food. The choice of food for an individual tends to emerge from their everyday living experience while navigating through the socia-structural constraints. Therefore to study the emergence of consumption of fast food in the slums of India, we have to look at the underlying problems that result in food security ultimately leading to their choice of fast-food over home made food. This marginalized people are well aware of the ill effects of the absence of vegetables and fruits from their diet but they do not have much  of a choice in front of the socio-structural constraints.

References:

Ritzer, G. (1996). The McDonaldization thesis: Is expansion inevitable?. International sociology11(3), 291-308.


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