Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Pitfalls of Commercialization: Uncontrolled Fabrication of Cultures?

The Pitfalls of Commercialization:
Uncontrolled Fabrication of Cultures?
Maria Almoite

Most societies go through the process of Sociocultural Evolution as they aggrandize and develop. Sociocultural evolution is constituted by the doctrines of cultural and social evolution, deciphering how cultures and societies have transformed over time. It refers to the process by which structural reorganization is affected through time, eventually producing a form or structure which is qualitatively different from the ancestral form. The perpetual adaptation to environmental changes enables societies to improve their way of living by gaining efficiency (through technological innovations) and creativity. This analysis will discuss Ritzer’s (1983) The McDonaldization of Society and Instant Karma: The Commercialization of Asian Indian Culture (Sandhu 2004) – which talks about two distinctive cultural societies that are lost beyond the shuffle of commercialization.

Sociologist George Ritzer (1983) expands the perspicacity of The McDonaldization of Society in which he elucidate that McDonaldization occurs when a culture possesses the idiosyncrasies of a fast-food restaurant. Ritzer (1983) argues that the model of rationalization in contemporary America is no longer a bureaucracy, but rather a fast-food restaurant as a more archetypal paradigm. The author discusses the magnitudes of rationalization that the changing societies pose (efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control over uncertainty) and the irrationality of rationality

            Ritzer (1983) emphasizes the four primary constituents of McDonaldization (efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control). The first component, efficiency, suggests the optimal capacity of the method for accomplishing a task equates to the fastest method and geared toward the minimization of time. Second, calculability suggests that the goal should be quantifiable (e.g. sales) rather than subjective (e.g. taste). The McDonaldization phenomenon created the notion that quantity equals quality, and that a large amount of product delivered to the customer in a short amount of the time is an equivocal to a high quality product. Third, predictability encourages the existence of standardized and uniform services. This component indicates that the tasks performed are highly repetitive, highly routine, and predictable. Lastly, control is a rational system considered to be oriented toward, and structured to expedite, control in a variety if senses (Ritzer 1983, 622:628)These four processes can be rational to an extent, though they also can lead to outcomes that are harmful or irrational, which leads me to the Irrationality of Rationality as a fifth component. Ritzer (1984) defines Irrationality of Rationality as that the rationales behind the rational systems being unreasonable systems. Simply, Ritzer (2004) saw irrationality of rationality as a byproduct of the process of rationalization.

Ritzer’s (1984) McDonaldization paradigm to decipher Rationalization in America seems to be occurring throughout America and other societies. More and more societies today emphasize the significance of the efficiency, predictability, calculability replacement of human by nonhuman technology, and control over uncertainty. Despite of the incalculable advantages progressive rationalization has brought, it has also created some pitfalls, and divergent irrationalities of rationality which threaten to accelerate in the years to come. The changing societies need to gain a better control over the process of rationalization in an effort to mitigate its irrational consequences.

Sandhu’s (2004) piece called Instant Karma: The Commercialization of Asian Indian Culture discusses the fine line between what is fashionable and what is foreign. The author focuses on the relationship between the commercialization and mainstreaming of Asian Indian culture, and ethnic identity formation among Asian Indian youth. The prosperity in India’s economy in recent years has led to greater global attention to the country and its cultural tradition than ever before. This sudden boom in economic prosperity has led numerous market designers to glamourize numerous items of traditional wear (e.g. tight skirts, cocktail dresses, designer suit, mehndi (henna tattoos), bhindis (decorative body art in the forehead) and saris).

The researcher conducted a multi-method experiment to analyze the images of the Indian culture in the American mainstream and evaluates its correlation on ethnic identity formation of Indian youth. The disadvantages of the commercialization of the Indian culture come with the confusion and uncertainty with what is the real traditional Indian culture versus what is the fad trending now. The significance put beyond the symbolic cultural practice and tradition that is mainstreamed may have fabricated the real importance of such practice and tradition. The biggest concern is the issue behind the ethnic identity confusion from the aftermath of this craze. For the young adults, such cultural practice and tradition are what constitute a huge part of their identity. For those who are just along for the ride, this is just a mere fashion statement, a fad—something temporary. The transition from foreign to fashionable removed Asian Indians from their own culture, customs, and traditions (Sandhu 2004).
            Assuredly, such obstacles in changing societies are bound to happen. As we adapt to our environment and culture, we learn ways that can help with innovation and development of societies. Gaining a real perspective and having a control over the situations is going to help eliminate the formation of irrationality of rationality.

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