George Ritzer

(b. 1940)

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Jean Baudrillard (1929—2007) French sociologist and cultural critic


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Americansociologist best known for his McDonaldization thesis. Ritzer was born and raised in New York City and his parents were in his own words ‘upper lower class’ Jews: his father drove a taxi and his mother was a secretary. Ritzer's first degree, from City College of New York, was in psychology; he followed this up with an MBA from the University of Michigan. He then took a position in human resources at Ford, where he worked until 1968, when he completed a PhD in organizational behaviour from Cornell. He then held jobs at the Universities of Tulane and Kansas, before being appointed Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland in 1974, where he has remained ever since. Ritzer is a prolific author, but it was his rather pessimistic thesis that the whole world was steadily being transformed into a mirror image of McDonald's, which first appeared in The McDonaldization of Society (1993), that brought him international attention and turned him into an academic superstar. He is primarily a critic of what Jean Baudrillard termed ‘consumer society’, but resists attributing the cause of the changes he decries to late capitalism and instead makes consumption seem like a character flaw.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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