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The rationalisation process is the practical application of knowledge to achieve a desired end. It leads to efficiency, coordination, and control over both the physical and the social environment. It is the guiding principle behind bureaucracy and the increasing division of labour. It has led to the unprecedented increase in both the production and distribution of goods and services. It is also associated with secularisation, depersonalisation, and oppressive routine. Increasingly, human behaviour is guided by observation, experiment and reason to master the natural and social environment to achieve a desired end.
Weber's general theory of rationalisation (of which bureaucratic evolution is but a particular case) refers to increasing human mastery over the natural and social environment. In turn, these changes in social structure have changed human character through changing values, philosophies, and beliefs. Such superstructural norms and values as individualism, efficiency, self-discipline, materialism, and calculability have been encouraged by the bureaucratic process. Bureaucracy and rationalisation were rapidly replacing all other forms of organisation and thought. Beginning to form a stranglehold on all sectors of Western society.
Denying the possibility of developmental laws in sociology, Weber essentially presented rationalisation as the master trend of Western capitalist society. Rationalisation is the process whereby every area of human relationships is subject to calculation and administration. While Marxists have noted the prominence of rational calculation in factory discipline and the labour process, Weber detected rationalisation in all social spheres - politics, religion, economic organisation, university administration, the laboratory and even musical notation. Weber's sociology as a whole is characterised by a metaphysical pathos whereby the process of rationalisation eventually converted capitalist society into a meaningless 'iron cage'.
For Weber, rationalisation involved: in economic organisation, the organisation of the factory by the bureaucratic means and the calculation of profit by systematic accounting procedures; in moral behaviour, a greater emphasis on discipline and training; in society as a whole, the spread of bureaucracy, state control and administration.
Weber defines bureaucracy as "a hierarchal organisation designed rationally to coordinate the work of many individuals in the pursuit of large scale administrative goals" [Haralambous, 1985].
Weber saw a hierarchal structure based on commonality of p
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the iron cage, George Ritzer, Henry Ford, Haralambous, Bell,
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England, London, USA, Great Britain, California, New York,
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McDonaldisation, Weight Watchers, Burger King, Penguin Books, McDonaldization, Routledge, McDonald,
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