16th August 2011: What do you get when you cross The Mcdonaldization of society, the Slow movement and the Industrial food system? by Adam Smyth


During the Edinburgh International Festival of August 2012 twenty two talks were given at Leith on the Fringe at the Out of the Blue venue.  They were free and open to everyone


Adam Smyth

Title of Talk

What do you get when you cross The Mcdonaldization of society, the Slow movement and the Industrial food system?

Bullet points of what I would like to cover:

  • The age of Rage. The approach to many human problems seems to be to speed them up.
  • Speed can be powerful and useful but it also has negative consequences.
    Balance is the key
  • Living life in the fast lane leads to burnout and meaninglessness, alternatively, slowing down for everything results in becoming proverbial roadkill.

  • The right to choose your own pace of life for any given context is what the Slow movement advocates.
    The McDonaldization of society- a rational system is made up of control, efficiency, predictability and calculability- four dimensions.
  • A fifth dimension however is ultimately dehumanization.
  • The paradox of a rational system is that it is irrational when made for people.
  • Slow Food is a manifestation of the Slow philosophy in a real life context.
  • It fights for food to be good, clean and fair.
  • The Industrial food system we have now is unsustainable and calls for in part, a Slow approach.

Suggested you-tube links, websites and / or texts where further information may be found:

Recommended texts:
In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore
The Mcdonaldization of society by George A Ritzer
Fast Food Nation by Eric schlosser
The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb
About me: The other Adam Smyth living in Edinburgh right now (I have yet to have a statue commissioned for me). I am just finishing up a masters in Journalism at Edinburgh Napier Uni but please don’t hold that against me (in light of the News of the World scandal)! As far as having a passion, it would simply be trying something different every so often, learning about fascinating things and trying not to get entrenched in a routine. I had no idea studying Slow Food would be of any interest to me but it been a real eye opener for me personally.

History of my subject?

Ritzer’s McDonaldization of society is basically an amplification of ‘Rationalisation’, a theory suggested by German sociologist and Political economist Max Weber. Weber used Bureaucracy as his model to base the rational system, whereas Ritzer has used the analogy of the hugely successful McDonald’s corporation.
The Slow food movement had its roots in 1986 when McDonald’s was going to open a restaurant right beside the Spanish steps in Rome. Feeling like this was an affront to their Italian was of life and culture, Carlo Petrini led the charge in boycotting the restaurant and three years later the international movement Slow Food was born. It continues to gather strength throughout the world with local convivia educating others about the importance of local food, biodiversity and
I will show part of the Food Inc. video hopefully during my talk that gives a concise history of the Fast food concept. Basically McDonald’s genius was in simply bring the factory assembly line method to the back of a restaurant.  Anything else?- To quote Gandhi, ‘There is more to life than increasing its speed.

Unfortunately, due to illness Adam could not make it to Leith on the Fringe but did write a couple of articles for the website instead…

Welcome to the Ragged University By Adam Smyth

Why are we here? By Adam Smyth