Making Fast Food

Making Fast Food: From the Frying Pan into the Fryer

Artwork by Richard Slye
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Making Fast Food
    Book Description:

    The flourishing fast food industry represents one particular blueprint of how to live. Reiter analyses the profound consequences of this blueprint for many spheres of life: women's work, youth employment, the labour movement, the family, and the community. Since the 1970s young people and women have increasingly entered the job market in low waged, service-sector jobs. Family life, she explains, has changed dramatically in the last forty years as many activities that were traditionally part of the home have been replaced by services available in the marketplace. The production of meals and those who produce them have moved from the family kitchen to the highly regulated corporate workplace where workers are like the interchangeable parts of a machine.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6296-7
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-1)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    As a teenager in the 1950s, I remember how eager I was to find a part-time job. I wanted money that I could spend as I wished, without having to consult my parents. My brother became a delivery boy for the local ʺfruit manʺ when he was eleven years old, but I had to wait until I was fifteen, when I finally got a job in a specialty chocolate shop. A few years later I got a summer job in the kitchen of Schraftʹs, a large restaurant chain in New York City. My co-workers thought it was wishful thinking when...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Market Moves into the Family and the Family Moves into the Market
    (pp. 11-19)

    Betty Friedan, whom many consider the American ʺmotherʺ of the second wave of liberal feminism, and Vladimir Ilyitch Lenin, the Bolshevik architect of the 1917 Russian revolution, were both concerned with womenʹs subordination, and both thought the solution lay in increasing womenʹs participation in paid labour. When Betty Friedan wrote theFeminine Mystiquein the late 1950s she, like Lenin some forty years earlier, advocated that women should enter socially productive labour to free them from the stultifying atmosphere of the kitchen and the nursery. Each, however, had a different proposal for who would take over the household chores. Friedanʹs...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Restaurant Industry in Canada
    (pp. 21-45)

    Dining out was neither a common nor a very important activity for our forefathers and mothers. Most people ate at home. The restaurant industry in Canada provides an example of how an activity that used to take place at home for household consumption became a business undertaking. There were two major phases to this process: the first was the development of restaurants as separate eating establishments, and their growing patronage by people away from home at mealtimes; this began in the late nineteenth century in Canada and extended until the 1950s. The second phase was the development of the fast...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Fast Food Invasion
    (pp. 47-60)

    Since the late 1960s, the map of Canada, once full of regional disctinctions, has been transformed. Fast food restaurants of a handful of chains have colonized the suburbs from coast to coast, obliterating local differences in taste and style. Each town displays the familiar logos of the fast food stores themselves – neat, clean, and orderly, all offering the same menu items, prepared the same way, from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island. By the 1970s, fast food restaurants had ventured downtown; urban as well as suburban residents had a number of fast food restaurants within easy reach, often located side...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Burger King: A Case Study
    (pp. 63-72)

    Burger King is a useful case study to understand how franchises helped to expand the growth of fast food, and how the vast resources of a huge corporation influence the organization of work. With such a broad empire to administer, this transnational company can and needs to establish standardized rules for the training and deployment of both managers and personnel for all its outlets from one central location.

    The Burger King company was founded in 1954, by two marketing and financial entrepreneurs, James McLamore and David Edgerton. By 1959 their strategy of selling a limited menu of hamburgers, fries, and...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Working in a Burger King Outlet
    (pp. 75-108)

    The growth of the restaurant business and the expanded market for eating out can be viewed as the successful realization of the liberal vision of the good society. Business prospers, jobs are available for whoever wants them, and women need no longer be tied to the stove. Eating out is affordable and thought to be an enjoyable experience. Yet while the marketplace flourishes, and individual freedom reigns in that arena, the constraints that exist behind the scenes at work tell a less cheery story. For many people, in particular women and young workers, the kind of jobs available to them...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Modern Times in the Hamburger Business
    (pp. 111-129)

    In the 1936 Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times, the little trampʹs employer tries to increase his employeesʹ productivity by speeding up the line, and in one scene, experiments with a feeding machine that will enable employees to continue working while having lunch. While, thanks to employment standards legislation, most workers can stop their work to have lunch, in almost every other way, Chaplinʹs vision of a highly controlled workplace has been realized.

    Computer technology is used in the restaurant industry to refine and assist in implementing an old method of organizing work – Taylorism. The technology is used to simplify...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Martialling Workers’ Loyalty
    (pp. 131-161)

    In the previous chapter we saw that Burger Kingʹs profits rest on the availability of a shifting labour force, one that Burger King can call upon and dismiss as the need arises. By simplifying the work tasks and cross-training at all stations, Burger King has attempted to create a work situation that allows any worker to do any job in the restaurant. Just as almost all discretion is removed from the job, workers are told how important each of them is to the restaurantʹs success. Thus we see some of the contradictions involved in grafting a human relations approach to...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Is This the Work Situation of the Future?
    (pp. 163-174)

    There are different views of how we should live our lives and the kind of world we want to inhabit. Our private lives are linked to public concerns – what form do we want these connections to take? How does the growth and development of the fast food industry fit into these visions?

    The fast food industry is an example of how the market has entered the private realm of the family/household and transformed the work done there into business opportunities. The fast food industry, like any industry in a capitalist environment, is most interested in profit. Two methods of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 175-190)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-206)
  15. Index
    (pp. 207-211)