Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   




  The term rationalization (from Latin ratio, ‘reckoning’) has two separate meanings. It was used by Pareto (1848 - 1923) to refer to the justification of an act, seeking to present it in a favourable light after it has been carried out. Pareto believed that rationalization involved the use of less than genuine explanations in order to justify actions. He considered that most social accounts, including most social and political theorizing, involved rationalization in this sense.

In its second usage in sociology, rationalization refers to the organization of social and economic life according to principles of efficiency on the basis of technical knowledge. It was a concept first used by Max Weber in his analysis of modern capitalism. For Weber, whole societies could be characterized by the typical forms of action they contained within them. He believed that there was a general tendency in modern capitalist society for all institutions and most areas of life to become subject to calculation, measurement and control: that is, rationalization. He maintained that progressive rationalization had in fact been occurring throughout history and that once the process had occurred it was irreversible. For Weber, rationalization was a master process which underlay the transformation of the economic, political and legal institutions of Western societies. He believed that this process would restrict individuality and create an ‘iron cage’ which would ultimately separate the individual from the community.

Weber argued that the process of rationalization would affect all areas of social life and would be manifested in a number of ways. For example, rationalization in science involved the decline of the individual innovator and replacement by the development of research teams, coordinated experiments and state-directed science policies; in law it meant the replacement of ad hoc law making and case-law with the application of universal laws; and in society as a whole it implied the spread of bureaucracy, state control and administration; it would also involve a waning of the influence of religion. For Weber, the development of the form of social organization known as the bureaucracy was the essence of the spirit of rationality.

Historical developments in the labour process, namely the system of assembly-line production associated with Henry Ford, illustrate the extent to which processes of rationalization can be pushed. Ford rationalized the production process by producing a standardized product (the Model T Ford), which enabled the purchase of specialized machinery. Work was subdivided into routine constituent parts. One of the most famous innovations was the assembly line. Workers were tied to their position and the rate and pace of the work were dictated by a machine. Although Ford maximized his production, he soon found that control over the productive process did not mean control over the workers. Rationalization of work processes to this degree resulted in problems of absenteeism and high levels of worker turnover. DA

See also authority; division of labour; secularization; state.Further reading A. Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>


Other Terms : Archaeology | Representative Government | Weak Force/Strong Force
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us