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.
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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.