Essay on “Fast Food Nation”

In the book, “Fast Food Nation” E. Schlosser speaks about fast food culture and its impact on American population. He singles out the main characteristics of the fast food, its history and advantages. Schlosser argues that the image of fast food culture is replaced by a version of the social culture that is constituted by a process of ongoing struggle to comprehend and live through a world in which everything that was solid is melting into air. He speaks about fast food as both “a commodity and metaphor” which helps him to analyze and reveal the nature of this phenomenon.

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Schlosser shows that “real culture” is used in a highly prescriptive and selective sense within mass cultural arguments. Only certain artefacts and practices are allowed into the cultural canon of fast food. So, for many people, fast food culture in its various manifestations is very often seen as an arena for displays of mundane agency in subverting dominant flows of meaning. Schlosser explains that as a commodity, fast food means chains of restaurants and bars. For instance, in 1970 consumers spent about $6 billion on fast food and in 2000 this sum exceeded $110 billion. Today, fats food restaurants are popular in almost every country in the world being a part of the economy and food sector (Schlosser, 2002, 7).
As a metaphor, fast food means the way of life followed by millions of Americans since 1950s. Schlosser views McDonald’s as a prime example of suburbanisation, Americanisation, and degradation and assume that those who eat there are, by and large, dupes and victims. On the other hand, for Schlosser McDonald’s, and any other similar phenomena is pleasure. At a more general level it can be seen as an exemplar of a certain form of cultural manifestations, particularly outside the United States where “Americanization” is so often a synonym for fast food. Also, Schlosser underlines the important of fast food culture for American nation connected it with entrepreneur innovations and self-men. After all, at various points in his argument Schlosser claims that McDonaldization is akin to the rationalization process. In that sense, he claims that he is not hostile to McDonald’s itself as a cultural form but rather to the iron cage it exemplifies, to the inexorable spread of bureaucratic systems that the metaphor so neatly captures. In addition, on many occasions he uses the rhetorical strategy in order to put forward a point of view or quotation without actually endorsing it himself. “Like Cheyenne Mountain, today’s fast food conceals remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking façade” (Schlosser, 2002, 5).
Schlosser uses many ways to analyze the fast food as a metaphor and commodity seeing it as a part of culture, easting habits and way of living. As the most important he underlines the role of fast food in the formation of national identity. A key dimension in such formations is the concept of the ‘imagined community’. Schlosser’s argument is that the nation is essentially ‘imagined’ in so far as it focuses on a sense of belonging. Many commentators have sought to identify the factors and agencies instrumental in the processes of constructing national identity. Schlosser identified key territorial, legal, economic and political factors and continues. As a metaphor, he connects fast food with emergence of car culture and its influence on national habits. “The nations car culture reached its height in southern California. A new form of eating place emerged. People with cars are so lazy, they do not want to get out of them to eat” (Schlosser 2002, 11). In other words, fast food culture provides the key to an understanding of the formation of American nation.
The supermarket shelves provide the same tins and cans found elsewhere, and the menus in McDonald’s and Pizza Hut are identical to others throughout the country. From this perspective, food opportunities would seem to be increasingly homogenized. The quirks of seasonal and regional gastronomic difference would seem to have been replaced by a monotonous culinary uniformity. These connotations are, we might imagine, derived from the texture and flavor of the mango itself, rather than from the complex social relations of its trajectory from Jamaica to the supermarket shelves. This conclusion is aided and abetted by the manner in which food commodities are marketed, a process which in many cases tends to limit consumers’ knowledge about the conditions of their production. Schlosser states that social dimensions are manifested in the ability of mass media to control the circulation of ideas about body image and fashion.
If Americans had been elitists, they would have been different place because eating habits and culture of consumption determine their way of living and even thinking. The distancing of self from those others who eat curry or spaghetti specifically, or in general from consumers of ‘foreign muck’, has contributed significantly to the definition of American life. his emphasis on nation forms part of a broader interest in identity, belonging and difference that have been central to the formation of cultural studies. Globalization threatens a sense of tradition by undermining the importance of time and place in terms of the food we eat.

Fast food culture is shared by members of a society and the behavioral traits of which it is comprised are manifested in a society’s institutions and artifacts. It is something that shapes behavior or structures perception of the world. For most Americans, fast food culture becomes a shared system of meanings, it is learned, it is about groups, and it is relative; it is not right or wrong, inherited, or about individual behavior. To understand a fast food culture people must understand its origins, history, structure, and functioning; and the effects of the geographical environment on the culture, acculturation, and assimilation. Fast food culture undergoes change over time, with change typically being slow to occur.

Works Cited Page
1. Schlosser, E. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Harper Perennial; Reprint edition, 2002.

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