However, through several features and efforts, it did contribute to the process of Americanization of Germany. The first example in this sense is given by the decreasing restaurants industry within the central European country. Internationally recognized for their schnitzels, bratwursts, knackwursts or sauerbraten, the German restaurants are slowly decreasing in popularity. Once the dominant part of the restaurants industry, the traditional German restaurants now account for less that one third of all players within the sector. Their demise could easily be associated with internal and economic modifications, such as the high costs of running these types of facilities, but it can also be seen how the growing popularity of McDonald's generated a reduced demand for traditional restaurants. "The traditional German restaurant […] is rapidly disappearing in Germany. Such establishments now account for less than one-third of the German foodservice […] McDonald's Deutschland, Inc. is by far the biggest restaurant company in Germany today, more than twice as large as the nearest competitor" (Schlosser). Otherwise put, the emergence of the American fast food giant within the central European country generated mutations in customer demands and reduced the interest in traditional locations. As a result, the process of Americanization commenced with the replacement of national eating customs with the McDonald's menus. And given that the descendant trend in terms of traditional restaurants is expected to maintain in the future, the process of Americanizing Germany could no longer be seen as a far fetched idea.
Directly linked to McDonald's role within the German fast food industry is as well the impact it generated upon consumers. Otherwise put, we already know that it changed their eating preferences from traditional dishes to all-American meals, but it is also important to notice that prior to the arrival of the Illinois fast food giant, most Germans were reticent to eating out and preferred the privacy of their own homes. McDonald's changed this and convinced the German population it was pleasant to have a meal outside the home. "In fact, McDonald's […] has been a major factor in changing German eating culture and behavior. Snaking and eating out have become popular because of the pioneering role of McDonald's in the fast food sector" (Adam). For the Americans, such behavior is common, but for the more private Germans it was something new -- it was another step in the Americanization of Germany.
Aside from eating out, McDonald's also brought into Germany the values of the American language as their menus contain the inscriptions of the meals in both English as well as German. People grew accustomed to the English language and their increased ability to understand it further increased the popularity of features expressed in English language and transmitting the American values, such as the music or the Hollywood films. The outcome has furthermore been strengthened by the airing of various McDonald's commercials which not only promote the language, but also the American values (this is mostly applicable to the target market formed from teenage consumers). The endeavor set the basis for an Americanization of the Germanic language, which could in the future materialize in the loss of the national identify through the loss of the national language.
Just like in most European countries that carry the history of totalitarian political regimes, the populations saw the arrival of the Americans as an opportunity for liberalization. The youth were the first to embrace the new trends set by McDonald's and they did not perceive this as Americanization, but as liberalization. The ability to wear ripped jeans, go to rock concerts and hang out at McDonald's stores allowed them to better express their individualities and make a statement of freedom. But despite their perception as freedom, the actions did in fact make for Americanization, as the German teenagers lost part of their national individuality and came to look more and more alike the American adolescents.
The Americanization of the German teenagers, a process strengthened by McDonald's, has already materialized in various mutations. The adolescents in the central European country desire to enjoy the same freedom as the American teens and this includes not only the ability to wear the clothes they want, but also in an ability to study the subjects they want (while the American schools offer increased flexibility, the German educational institutions are rather rigid). Also in the process of adopting the American values, the German teenagers long for the organization of sports and other out of school events that create "school spirit." Aside the freedom of school related activities, changes have occurred in the habits of going out, as more and more German teenagers follow the American model of going out to dinners, movies and dating....
Despite the initially harmless effects of these changes in adolescent behavior, one has to realize that the American teenager is a growing victim of drugs ("drugs are a bigger problem in the U.S. than they are in Germany. I have heard from numerous students how unbelievably easy it is to get drugs" (Fisher, 1999)) and that excessive alignment to the American teenage values could mean that the German teenager becomes more exposed to the risks of doing drugs. This in turn would materialize into a social problem.
Then, another force of Americanization has been introduced by McDonald's in their treatment of the staff members. Despite the fact that they employ more than 50,000 individuals within the central European country, the company's board does not have a member to speak for the rights of the workers. This was possible due to the fact that McDonald's Deutschland was not created as an individual company, but as an organization fully owned by McDonald's U.S. And as such, subjected to American legislation. "With over 50,000 employees in over 1,000 restaurants, one would expect that McDonald's Germany would have employee representatives sitting on a supervisory board, but this is not the case, and the main reason is that McDonald's Germany has retained American registration, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of the American McDonald's Corporation" (Cooke, 2003). This basically means that the political and employment customs within Germany have been subjected to Americanization and that the rights of the national employees are less protected under U.S. legislation than under national laws. The process is evermore dangerous as it not only helps the American corporation increase its revenues, but it also constitutes a profitable business model that could be easily adopted by German employers. The long-term result for such an action would be a significant decrease in the rights of the German labor force.
As a final remark, the Americanization of Germany must also be analyzed through the lenses of historic events. With the end of the Second World War, defeated Germany was perceived as the main culprit of the many casualties and financial losses throughout the globe. The population lost its self-respect and much of its determination and power. In this context, the country, and other international players, found it difficult to set the basis for fruitful relations with Hitler's Germany. In a setting in which the central European state was struggling to regain its dignity and national identity, the United States opened the door to economic collaboration and cooperation. The opening of hundreds of McDonald's stores convinced other global investors of the economic capabilities of working with a strong industry and market. However, most of the foreign investors in Germany came from the United States, constituting as such an additional step in the Americanization process. More specifically, the end of the war and the decision of the United States to restore economic collaboration with Germany through ventures including the opening of McDonald's stores meant that more and more American organizations would territorially expand into Germany to promote the American values, culture, products and traditions. The contemporaneous Germany is filled with subsidiaries of American corporations such as General Motors, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Nike, IBM and so on (Pauwels, 2003).
The world we know today is the result of endless process of change commencing from distant historic times and expanding through modern technological innovations. The relationship between Germany and the United States commenced decades ago and continues to raise the interest of numerous scholars and practitioners. Defeated after the World War II, Germany was in desperate need for economic restoration. Tormented by the Great Economic Depression, the United States found itself in a similar position. Baring similar goals in mind, the officials of the two countries opened their doors to international cooperation. In 1971, this cooperation materialized in McDonald's penetration of the German market. The endeavors were both praised as well as criticized, with most of the criticism being associated with the American globalization efforts, or the Americanization of Germany.
Today, the Oak Brook-based fast food giant operates in the central European country through more than 1,000 stores and employs more than 50,000 individuals. Relative to an international average, McDonald's Deutschland runs more wholly owned restaurants than franchises. The company has played…
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