Max rationalizing me

by Evans Yonson

(Note: This was a paper I submitted to class in the University of Barcelona in January 2010.)

I reported in class Max Weber’s rationalization and I thought I still lack the experience to really comprehend what Max Weber was telling me and what I was telling the whole class that afternoon. So I set myself out to an adventure and to appreciate how rationalization works in a natural social setting. I went to a fast-food restaurant near my apartment and asked myself two questions, how rationalized are the actions of the people inside the this restaurant?; and, is life becoming increasingly rationalized?

I entered the fast-food restaurant and stayed there for an hour. I knew that this too much time to be in restaurant, other customers might need my table. This could be less time too to be doing a research. I thought that this was just a personal thing so I might as well enjoy the experience while I was at it. When people entered the restaurant, they went into the line immediately. While waiting they are already looking at the wall for possible food that they want to order. By the time they get into the counter, they have already made up their minds and placed their order. Waiting, ordering and serving time took less than seven minutes per client. At the back of the counter, the restaurant people busied themselves with cleaning their areas, preparing the food, and so on. I realized so many things after being in that restaurant for an hour.

First, people get the value of their money immediately. This is Weber’s first maxim of rational capitalism: life is to be lived with a specific goal in mind. Money is a very important commodity in modern society. Second, in order to have money we need to have a work or a job. We can only satisfy our wants if we can afford it thus the need for work to have money. There is a saying that goes “we live to work not work to live.” This creates the idea of an obligation to find work. In capitalism, we are not only encouraged to work but we are socially pressured to find a living. I remember going to Marrakech and saw many Moroccans just sitting down by the parks for several hours and doing nothing. There are not enough jobs there but it does not mean that they should not be looking for one. Even disabled people in modern societies are able to work. Third, as a working individual, we have a duty to perform in our work. We are expected to perform our duties and responsibilities because we are paid to do such things. It is our moral obligation to do what we are supposed to perform. All our actions lead us to our own as well as the company’s or society’s valued goals.

Life is indeed increasingly rationalized. We are dictated by rules and regulations that lead to being organized – falling in line, waiting for your turn, preparing your order before you take your turn at the counter, throwing our waste into the garbage bin after eating and so on. But will this orderliness be threatened by chaos later on? This may be affected by some disorder but with some ready controls over uncertainties, balance and order will again rule the day.