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Foucault's Critique

Obviously there is a qualitative difference between the incarcerated individual and the person who lives in his own house. But that distinction ignores a point argued by Ritzer with regard to corporate regimentation of social interaction that is completely consistent with Foucault's description of the reliance that society has placed on the medical and judicial rationales for incarceration of social misfits. Ritzer describes the fast-food industry as one in which (among other things) consumers are obliged to adhere to norms by "reading" what he terms "codes" associated with of purchasing and eating the products on offer: "'Reading McDonald's' might involve such aspects as understanding what some people are saying when they consume 'value meals' and what others are saying by eschewing such meals" (Ritzer 274). Eating a fast-food meal also involves being aware of rituals (or codes or norms) of behavior that accomplish a food purchase--standing in line inside or waiting in line in one's car at the drive-thru window outside, paying at the first window and picking up at the second, the whole transaction taking place in full view of closed-circuit video.

The person-to-person (clerk-to-customer) encounter has the manifest appearance of interaction, but the fact is that the process of fulfilling the transaction governs the encounter, not anything like an authentic personal connection, a point that becomes clear if a customer makes a special request (e.g., no onions) that falls outside the expected pattern of behavior. The point is that the codes and norms of fast-food consumption are determined and managed by the authority and business-format expertise of the corporate entity. The entity may be reluctant to enable the handling of something that is outside the norm, or may not equip its clerks to respond effectively to nonpatterned customer inputs. All of this is further complicated, according to Ritzer (269-70), by the fact that demand for fa...

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Foucault's Critique. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:31, August 17, 2017, from
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