SOCIAL NETWORK “VKONTAKTE” AS A GLOCAL “NOTHING” IN G. RITZER’S THEORY OF MCDONALDIZATION OF SOCIETY

  • The authors:
    Aleksandr V. Shchekoturov
  • Issue: July 24-26th, 2019
  • Pages: 519-526
  • Section: EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND CULTURE IN A DIGITAL SOCIETY
  • URL: http://conference-ifl.rudn.ru/519-526/
  • DOI:
    10.22363/09669-2019-519-526

Abstract. In this paper we attempt to propose George Ritzer’s theory of
McDonaldization of society in relation to the study of the social network
VKontakte as a new MacDonaldized sub-institute.
The objectives of the study were:
-to characterize social media as a McDonaldized institution;
– to consider VKontakte as a McDonaldized sub-institute;
– to analyze VKontakte in accordance with the concept of “nothingsomething” by G. Ritzer in the context of the processes of grobalization and
glocalization.
The main methods of research were general scientific methods of
observation, analogy, analysis and synthesis, as well as the axiomatic
method, which consists in the development of the sociological theory of G.
Ritzer.
George Ritzer understands the McDonaldization as an implementing such
principles of famous fast-food restaurant as efficiency, calculating,
predictability, control and irrationality of rationality into the core of the
consumer society. The first four factors add up to a positive effect, the
irrationality of the rational means that McDonaldized systems produce
unintended and undesirable consequences, among which dehumanization is
the main one.
The study revealed that social media has all the signs of McDonaldized
social institutions. Efficiency – the use of a variety of multimedia social
media tools for optimal achievement of a variety of users’ goals. Calculating
–tracking the number of views of the created content in the administered
communities and profiles in order to increase efficiency in managing social
media. Predictability is the ability to use social media anywhere in the world
in a user-friendly technological environment with manageable and
predictable consequences. Control through the use of inhuman technologies
–a neural network or software that offers a user potentially relevant content
based on his/her information. Irrationality of the rational is the negative
consequences obtained as a result of close affiliation with a McDonald
institution (e.g., the risk of becoming a victim of fraud or cyber bulling).
519
DOI: 10.22363/09669-2019-519-526
Being a sub-institute of social media, VKontakte has the same signs of
McDonaldization. There are many options for convenient using of the
virtual platform: from thematic communities, allowing you to be familiar
with new information, to different gaming applications, music, selfpresentation and online business (efficiency). VKontakte encourages to
make a quantitative analysis of the virtual audience that visited the user or
company profile (number of views, likes, reposts and comments) etc.
(calculating). VKontakte keeps its design unchanged when using a social
network anywhere in the world (predictability). Based on user’s
information, VKontakte predicts and offers him/her similar groups, events,
audio-video recordings, products and even possible friends (control).
Number of victims of cyber-bullying increases, users become socially and
information overloaded, the probability to meet low-grade or illegal content
increases (irrationality).
Finally, VKontakte is as an example of the glocal “nothing”. In the theory of
G. Ritzer, this phenomenon is characterized by the popularization of social
forms, which are result of a synthesis of global and local processes, but
lacking the unique content. VKontakte appeared after Facebook and in
many ways became its copy. VKontakte has acquired a number of locally
determined features: 1. Bipolar user registration system; 2. Dependence
marital status on gender (only a heteronormative standard is possible); 3.
The range of options for expressing political preferences is limited; 4. The
choice of types of worldview (represented by various religious movements)
is limited.
Considering social media as McDonaldized systems in general and
VKontakte as a glocal “nothing” in particular opens up new methodological
possibilities in the study of media culture and the role of digital technologies
in human socialization and acculturation. A comparative analysis of social
media interfaces in the proposed perspective reveals additional cultural
codes and meanings of social communication.
Keywords: McDonaldization, grobalization, glocalization, social media

Aleksandr V. Shchekoturov
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad, Russia,
e-mail: alexsanya@mail.ru
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6703-4860

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