The Velvet Cage of Educational Con(pro)sumption

George Ritzer, Petar Jandrić, Sarah L Hayes

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In the year that George Ritzer publishes the ninth edition of The McDonaldization of Society, moving his famous theory firmly Into the Digital Age, critical educator Petar Jandrić and sociologist Sarah Hayes invited George to a dialogue on the digital transformation of McDonaldization and its relationship to consumer culture. In this article, George first traces for us the origins of his theory that has endured for four decades. A key dimension of McDonaldization is the ‘iron cage’ of control, via rationalization, that was once contained within physical sites of bricks and mortar. Increasingly now, we encounter a ‘velvet cage’ in sites of digital consumption, at the hands of non-human technologies, that threaten human labour and autonomy. Exploited as unpaid con(pro)sumers, we labour to provide information for corporate digital billionaires, keeping McDonaldization alive, well, and even more predominant in augmented settings, including Higher Education, in the form of the McUniversity. With the rise of prosuming machines such as blockchain and bitcoin, that can both produce and consume without intervention from human prosumers, George concludes that prosumer capitalism will explode into unprecedented and unpredictable directions in the years to come.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-129
Number of pages17
JournalOpen Review of Educational Research
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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