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Golden Arches East: McDonald's in East Asia Paperback – January 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0804732079 ISBN-10: 0804732078 Edition: Highlighting

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; Highlighting edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804732078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804732079
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,994,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What does it mean that McDonald's has become an integral part of daily life throughout East Asia--so much so, in fact, that many Asians have ceased to consider the American hamburger chain "foreign" at all? The five scholars who contribute essays to Golden Arches East have taken a novel approach to cultural anthropology. Call it hamburger historiography, perhaps, but their analysis of McDonald's ascendancy in the East has much to say about both the corporation itself and the changing values of Asian societies. Despite widespread criticism of McDonald's as a symbol of global homogeneity and environmental degradation, not all of these changes have been negative. In Hong Kong and China, for instance, McDonald's has actually contributed to improving standards of bathroom cleanliness and table manners, according to the authors. And the transformation has cut both ways; McDonalds itself has been forced to adapt to local culture and tastes. In studying how McDonald's has been assimilated into Asian societies, Watson et al. provide a fascinating portrait of cultural accommodation, compromise, and change. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

From a historical perspective, McDonald's Ray Kroc may be viewed as the latest in a line of foreign rulers who conquered Asia. From Japan to South Korea to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and, most recently, China, the ubiquitous Golden Arches proclaim the victory of American hamburger culture. But is McDonald's the vanguard of a process of globalization? The five anthropological case studies gathered here by editor Watson in this absorbing, accessible study suggest a more complicated answer than yes or no. They show that, partly because of its own localization strategy and partly because of the consumers it targets, McDonald's quickly assimilates to the culture of the countries where it operates even as it contributes to modernizing changes in those diverse Asian settings. In particular, McDonald's is no longer an exotic import but part of the local milieu. Here is that rare academic study that belongs in every library.?Steven I. Levine, Boulder Run Research, Hillsborough, N.C.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on October 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Most books dealing with the spread of American pop culture (and pop business) influences these days like Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonald's have very little good to say about the growth of any of them in previously unexposed markets. That's why, perhaps, it comes as surprising that "Golden Arches East" comes out with a mostly positive look at the effect McDonald's had had throughout East Asia.
In this book, five authors look at the impact McDonald's has had in five different East Asian entities: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Much of the early chapters is given over to looking at the material aspects of McDonald's in East Asia: the marketing aspects, the reconceptualization towards a standard Asian consumer, the effect on the Asian food industry, etc.. All of this makes for very fascinating reading and shows just how marketing has to be changed from country to country (or even region to region). Likewise, it deals with very nuts-and-bolts issues of how McDonald's has impacted the lives of the average Asian consumer - and the impact is bigger than you'd think.
However, later chapters (especially those dealing with Taiwan and Korea and the Afterword) move to more conceptual issues of McDonald's - issues of modernity. Americanization and cultural identity. In an anthropological context (which is what this book tries to maintain), these are all very important, but somehow the later efforts seem to either fall flat or fall back on the line used so often in studying Asia these days, "But things are changing now".
While the overall message of this book is positive, there are the standard overtones of just how much the world has changed in the past half-century.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
I find this book very entertaining, despite it is a collection of ethnographic essays. Some of the variations among Macdonalds among East Asian localities, in terms of food served (Shogun/Teriyaki Burger in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan), as well as services (birthday parties) are really interesting. The studies show that globalization is a two-way street: Macdonalds export the US fast food culture, but, meanwhile, it has to adopt to local taste and cultural differences to grow. Out of the many fast food chains, Macdonald is undeniably the most successful in penetrating the global market. Macdonalds have always draw discussions and controversies in Hong Kong, my home town. Several months ago, there was a craze to buy a collection of 28 Snoopy miniatures (in different national clothings) in 28 days. Many HK residents flocked to Macdonalds in town to buy the Meals (a requirement to get the Snoopys) and pay an additional amount of about US$0.75 to get the Snoopys each of the 28 days to get teh whole collection. But many people can't bear to eat french fires for 28 consecutive days and therefore throw away the meals just for the dolls. The whole set, at a time, worths more than US$250 in Hong Kong. Many people criticize Macdonalds for creating waste (food got discarded), chaos (long lines outside the restaurants) and even social problems. In short, it's a good book for understanding global business and East Asian social changes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Crews on January 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
It would be hard to hate this book. In classic anthropological fashion, the authors provide plenty of interesting anecdotes about the relatively exotic practices associated with East Asian McDonald's that you will probably smile at despite yourself. However, the book seems to tell us little that even a general reader probably does not already know. Ask anyone who has traveled abroad, and you will probably find out that they saw a McDonald's. After reading this book, I asked around my office, trying to gauge the presence of McDonald's outside of East Asia. One friend, who lived for several years in relatively backwards Guatemala City, said that there were at least 3 of them within a 5 minute walk of his apartment. Many others relayed the same kinds of experiences. So, although the small differences between these cultures and how they accept such a quintessentially American restaurant is interesting, it is far from surprising. Of course the Japanese accept it, and of course they also have better places to eat--they like Americans, and they have a lot of money. Of course South Koreans tend to reject it--the relationship between our states has been strained for 50 years. Not only does it ring a bit hollow in this sense, but it is also notably dated. The various studies here were researched in the early- to mid-1990's. By the time they were written, they were already out of date. The editor immediately points that out in his useful conclusion. One further issue I had is how strongly the authors, and especially the editor, make the anthropological case. I understand that this is in their nature, but I would also contend that it obscures the true merit of these studies. The problem is a kind of lack of historical sensibility.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Knowledge about global products is itself global. We know about them even before they are sold in a store nearby. Indeed, shaping consumer expectations is part of the strategies of global firms, and has given rise to a whole marketing industry. Everybody knows, for instance, that McDonald's restaurants are to be found in all major cities in the world, and that they provide a food service experience that is both homogeneous and predictable (if not palatable to gourmet palates!) The Golden Arches, McDonald's trademark, have become an icon of international business and popular culture, and the Big Mac a symbol of junk food and fast service. There are even talks about McJobs, McWages, and a Big Mac Index tracking exchange rates.

People who have travelled in Asia know that some fast food specialties are customized to accommodate local tastes--the Maharaja Mac contains chicken, not beef, and teriyaki burgers are to be found not only in Japan, but also in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Some McDonald's publics are specifically Asian, as witnessed by familiar scenes in ordinary restaurants: school kids in uniform having a snack on their way home or before cram school; office ladies enjoying a relaxed atmosphere; lively birthday parties during week-ends. We know the story. It has been told before: by articles in the international press, by case studies in business schools, and by direct observation when one ventures abroad. What can the reader possibly learn that he does not already know? And what can a team of anthropologists bring to the task that does not duplicate the narratives of journalists and business writers?

Such skepticism was met by the five authors of Golden Arches East when they embarked on their collective endeavor to study McDonald's restaurants in five East Asian locations.
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