Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Bedouins have existed for over 1000 years, however over time the exact meaning of Bedouin changed. According to the dictionary they're described as wanderers or rovers, basically people who don't live in a specific place and instead move around depending on the resources available in the place. This may have been true before when they'd change an area once the food was running out or other factors that may make living there harder. However, with all the changes that have happened in the past 60 years or so that has changed. Most Bedouin tribes now live at a set place, in homes just like us. Therefore, some may say Bedouins are no more. However, that is far from true as being a Bedouin is more than what the dictionary makes it out to be Bedouins have their own culture with their own sets of norms, beliefs and traditions. That is what defines them and not whether they wander or migrate.
I’m a frequent customer at the L’wzaar Seafood Market in the Katara Cultural Village in Doha. The food is delicious. And is delicious every time I go there. The fish is always fresh, the food is always served in the same way and the taste and presentation of each dish is almost perfectly identical every single time.
When I went to study this restaurant for my third short project, trying to measure how much the theories of McDonaldization applied there, I noticed a lot of aspects that did conform to the theory, and others that did not.
When you first enter the restaurant your eye quickly goes to the interactive projection of a pool with swimming fish in the foyer. The theme of seafood, seafood-market and sea-life is captivated beautifully by the décor and the whole “set-up” of the place including the ambient sounds that emote feelings of “a busy market” and “classical, authentic dining”.
The walls are covered with blue mosaic tiles, and plasma screens rest on the pillars throughout the restaurant playing sport programs, and aquariums hold fish hostage for display.
L’wzaar seafood market employs a huge staff, with approximately 60 waiters, a manager, an assistant manager, a captain (in charge of reservations and seating and greeting and reception), a hostess (who assists the captain), a head chef, sous chef, about 15 line cooks and 2 – 5 servers at the fish market display (who help you with your selections, and weigh the fish) as well as several dishwashers and cleaners.
Al though the food that reaches your table says nothing but authentic, delicious, unique, and innovative, the process of preparing it is very much McDonaldized. Everything is measured, calculated, and controlled to produce exacting standards, and predictable results. The time the fish needs to be cooked is already pre-determined and set based on weight and type. Your selections at the market array of fresh fish and crustaceans are weighed, a sticker with a barcode is placed on your ticket with the table number, and it is placed on a tray and given to waiter to be taken to the chef at the pass, where your order will be completed. The barcode system eliminates human error, and the simple, easy-to-learn process de-humanizes and de-skills the workforce so that they are easy to replace, leading to the homogenization of labor.
Among many other observations, an important aspect of irrationality of rationality is in also adopted in L’wzaar Seafood Market. At first, I couldn’t really apply this theory to my observations. However, Professor Geoff pointed out that the huge staff and waiters resembles somewhat the case of the numerous cleaners constantly sweeping and cleaning the floors in the CMU building, even though the hallways are spotless. The irrationality of rationality here, is the superfluous employment of waiters at L’wzaar, that now looking back, does in fact fit this concept. The presence of too many waiters and cleaners to keep the restaurant clean and working, takes away the “rationality” of it.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
With the latest revolutions that took place in Tunisia and Egypt, many rappers thrived and utilized rap music as a way to convey their furious messages to their governments. After listening to some of the songs that were produced lately about the revolutions, I concluded that rap music became a medium to introduce democracy to the embrace of the youth. The lyrics were solidly fierce, full of emotions and were full of descriptions about the protests and power of the citizens.
In Palestine, there are more than 25 rap groups that were established in a time span of ten years. Some of the groups include young teenagers who contribute to the making of meaningful rap songs from their own point of view. Since these rappers are still young, they are able to record their music and progress as they age to deliver what they have witnessed for generations to come.
Dam is the very first rap group that was established Palestine in the late 90s, and their fame even crossed the Israeli borders with time. In 2001, the group produced a song named Meen Irhabi? Which means, who is the terrorist? The lyrics included a verse that says: Who’s the terrorist? I am the terrorist? How can I be a terrorist while I’m living in my own land? Who’s the terrorist? You’re the terrorist, you’re the terrorist and you’re slowly diminishing me as I’m living in my own country. The group also has its own fan club that includes some of the Jews from Israel who are against the movements of Israel in Palestine.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Twitter is what some may call a global media phenomenon. It is in fact a global sensation, that started out not too long ago. But how come millions of people know about it? How did the website spread globally?
It spread through word of mouth communication. People who have accounts, or who heard about the website, told their friends about it and their friends told their friends. The cycle continues. Word of mouth communication is only made stronger by another global sensation - the Internet. Through the Internet and social networking websites such as myspace, facebook and now twitter there is instant communication between people who might not be in the same room, country or even continent. All one has to do is write on their friends’ “walls” and if those friends are at that very moment on the Internet, they will get the message. Also, Instant Messaging is very popular and it increases word of mouth communication exponentially. So ideas spread much faster now then they ever used to in the past.
People were talking about the new social networking website (Twitter) for a long duration of time and with great intensity and enthusiasm. Due to the global recognition of this website, there is now a collective consumption of this kind of popular culture. Virtual local scenes are emerging on Twitter through Twitter’s use of hash-tags and lists that people are allowed to make. People of the same subculture who do not live in the same place are constantly, in a way, in the same place because of Twitter. There are many downloadable applications that allow Twitter to be on one’s mobile phone, iPad or laptop. So people are constantly communicating with one another.
As seen, Twitter can be studied sociologically. The concept of Twitter fits in perfectly with the interaction approach of popular culture. This approach focuses on the smaller and informal processes of communication such as word of mouth. This approach depends on interactions between small groups of people and the influences they have through those small actions and does not depend on big-budget marketing. This is exactly what Twitter does. One way it does this is by the trending topics one sees on the side bar. A concept or idea that started out between a couple of people somehow spreads around a region or the world and gains global recognition.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
On the 6 of March, I attended a very unique event that was held in Qatar University, and which was more like a celebration of different cultures, uniting a wide range of diverse countries and nationalities into a small village, called as “The Cultural Village.”
The Cultural Village is a great student event that enriches the audience with activities representing the variety of cultural heritages at Qatar University. It takes place annually and is organized by QU Students under the supervision and guidance of the Student Activities Department.
The event’s main objective is to introduce its audience to the different cultures of QU Students who come from various parts of the globe. The village will include a number of booths, exhibitions, and several cultural activities that reflect the uniqueness of each culture as perceived by the participants through folkloric shows, music, traditional customs, and plays. The best of all, this event is open to the public.
According to sociology, such event as considered a multi-cultural activity can be described using the Interaction Theory. It helps create cultural diffusion, which is the spreading of cultural traits, products, ideas, or behaviors from one culture to another. It is also a great opportunity for people coming from different countries to reflect their cultures by doing interesting and fun activities. Cultural village allows social and cultural interaction with a large, diverse audience and prevents any kinds of cultural gaps or stereotypes.
In addition to that, the Cultural Village is a great chance for the students to introduce themselves and know each other. It allows you to live between cultures and experience different countries’ norms and traditions by just setting there and having the spirit to observe and cheer.
What is also special about this event is that it is a great environment for the students to show off their talents and special capabilities, which helps enhance their self-confidence and leaves positive impressions on their community. I was really impressed by the students’ potentials as some of them were casting poems and speeches that they wrote by themselves. Others were acting, dancing, singing, and playing different musical instruments. In short, I can describe the Cultural Village as a fun and exciting way to travel around the world and explore different cultures and identities.
This video is one of the great performances done in the event, which is a Palestinian traditional dance called "Dabkeh."
Saturday, April 2, 2011
According to Ritzer, McDonaldization is the process where the whole society, and not only restaurants, is increasingly running like a fast-food restaurant.
As it was Friday, I decided to examine McDonaldization at TGI Friday's and in the same time have a delicious dinner with my sister at my favorite restaurant. Upon setting there and observing what was going on, I was surprised that many aspects of the restaurant, which in the past appeared to me as common senses, are actually McDonaldized, but most of the people are unconsciously practicing them.
While observing the cycle of interaction between the customers and employees, I realized that the restaurant’s hospitality is standardized. For example, whenever a customer gets in the restaurant, there will be a nice lady standing in front, smiling, holding a candy basket, and repeating the same exact phrases over and over for every customer who is approaching her or even leaving the restaurant. The waiters and waitresses do the same behavior as well, "Would you like a drink or fries with that?" or "Thank you, have a nice day!" According to sociology, these repetitive phrases and actions of the employees are small examples of the machine-like theme identified in the McDonaldization theory.
What is special about TGI Friday’s, from my personal experience, is the fact that its employees, especially the waitresses and waiters are trying to create an intimate relationship between the customers. Based on the way they interact and dress, I can say that they are not very professional but helpful and joyful.
From the way they were dressing, I was able to distinguish the different roles that each employee had and identify their positions. For example, waiters were wearing clown-like outfits, which has helped create senses of humor and vitality in the atmosphere.Managers or whoever seemed higher in position, were wearing professional outfits like dark suits with ties.
The whole business involves attributes of efficiency, calculation, predictability, and control. Their service was so efficient; employees were working as a team most of the time. In other words, individuality is not allowed. Employees were also doing their best in advising and interpreting customer wants. Therefore, customers are encouraged to expect certain service standards, which allow for an efficient service. Information technology is also used to ensure that these services targets are met. For example, they used machines to accomplish certain tasks like refilling drinks and accounting.
In terms of calculation, I realized that TGI Friday's emphasizes quantity rather than quality of its products. The food menu, for example contains over 30 items and the cocktail menu is similarly extensive, along with the desert menu. In addition, the ways in which the food is portrayed on the menus, give the customer an illusion of the quality.
In short, McDonaldization has extended its reach into more and more regions of society. It is affecting every aspect of our lives including cultures, beliefs, and the ways people think. Although there have been many benefits and conveniences that are related to this process of McDonaldization. Its increasingly rational outcomes are becoming irrational.