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6.5 Multilayer Structure of Cultural Interface: McDonald's Approach from Interface

As mentioned in the previous section, the relationship between the global and the local is multilayered. In this multilayered interface, two phases should be distinguished. In order to explain these two phases, it is necessary at first to ascertain which social units such abstract terms as the global and the local signify. As a process of globalisation in principle, the centre of the world, for example, the contemporary USA backed by its political-economic forces, brings about its cosmology, cultural meanings and values to non-Western local countries. However, it is not necessary that the level of the local is set only on the level of a nation. We should examine carefully the interactive transformation process in multilayered interface derived from globalisation.

The basic principle is, as Fig. 6.1 shows, that the global brings about the action and influences of fast systematisation to the local. In response to them, the local interprets the fast system and fast products from the viewpoint of cosmology, cultural meanings and values of the local, thus displacing them in its process of

Fig. 6.1 Basic structure of the global/the local

Fig. 6.2 Three levels of social space

accepting the global. This is also understood as a process of articulating both systems of the global and the local. By actions from both the global and the local, that is, from the external and the internal in the interactive interfacing process, glocalisation takes a form in the border domain between them. The following are the close examinations of the unfolding of McDonald's in Japan.

Examining the relationship between the global, national and local levels, I agree with Sassen's (1998) basic discussion of globalisation and conclude that the importance of the state is not reduced, but its institutional function is reorganised to adapt to the changes caused by external influences.

In order to scrutinise the relationship between the global and the local, we need to set the levels such as global/national/local in the social space at first and then the relationship between these levels. Taking structuralist approach of Lévi-Strauss (1983) to grasp the relationship between the three levels, I approach globalisation of McDonald's concretely. The three levels are set as in Fig. 6.2.

The level of the national does not necessarily signify the state but a nation as a unit of analysis. The interface domain is composed of the relationship between several systems of meanings, but in order to understand the relationship principally, I begin by approaching the binary relationship of the global and the national, and of the national and the local.

The relationship between the global and the national is actually regarded as one between the global and the local, in terms of interaction in cultural interface, that is to say, the relationship between the original McDonald's ideally manualised in the USA and the reality of McDonald's in Japan (concretely, menu, location of restaurants, quality of customers, manners, service, relations towards adjacent communities, usage of time and space, customers attitude and so on). Interactions in the interface between the model McDonald's in the USA and the one in Japanese have formed actual conditions of McDonald's operation in Japan.

The most common impact which McDonald's has had globally is to make hamburgers effectively by cooking machine. People are required to follow the working manual to operate the machine. Customers are often required to make a queue to order foods. In more populated societies or areas, it is often the case that customers are always in a rush and tend to eat such fast food quickly by hands. In many societies, people use chopsticks or knife and fork, and are not supposed to eat by hands habitually, but most of the people in the world don't necessarily hesitate to eat with hands. In addition, equipping Western toilets with clean maintenance was a kind of surprising innovation. Crews make frequent checks of their cleanliness. It is also pointed out that the colours of both interior and exterior of

Fig. 6.3 Glocalisation (transformation of meanings)

Fig. 6.4 Transformation of structural relationship (1)

McDonald's restaurants are made bright using only basic colours like those of Disneyland. Main customers especially of the suburbs are families. Service is provided along the details of the common manual, and crews in any restaurant are required to serve the customers promptly.

McDonald's restaurants in any country in the world have a lot in common, promoting systematisation of both production and consumption. McDonald's Japan has accepted the elements of globalisation which the US McDonald's represents. At the same time, though, it has also interpreted such global elements to conform to the prevalent social characteristics of the Japanese and has displaced them. It is true that global elements influence the local directly. At the same time, they tend to get transformed to fit into the existing structure of a local society in order to gain acceptance. In a broad sense, a phenomenon of transformation occurs of a system of meanings which the US McDonald's has represented. As is shown in Fig. 6.3, a domain of glocal interface is recognised to be formed in the border between the global and the local.

The domain of cultural interface is composed of the global and the local forms of multilayer structure as mentioned and shown in Fig. 6.4. In this case, the national level signifies the local level in opposition to the global level. More concretely, in the micro interface space, the relationship between the US headquarters of McDonald's at the global level and McDonald's Japan at the local level is assumed here.

On one hand, the US headquarters of McDonald's tried to globalise McDonald's Japan by providing it with the same menu as in the USA. On the other hand, McDonald's Japan glocalised the above menu by adding typical Japanese hamburger like teriyaki Mcburger in it in order to be accepted by Japanese customers (Fig. 6.5). With the form of hamburger being of foreign origin, but the content being soy sauce taste, McDonald's Japan has introduced a Japanese style hamburger, thus keeping intact the taste of Japanese foods and lessening the new different taste of

Fig. 6.5 Structure of cultural interface (1)

Fig. 6.6 Transformation of structural relationship (2)

American foods. Such device and process of acceptance of foreign foods are almost the same as in the cases of acceptance of bread as an-pan and gyū-nabe (beef pot) as an application of the then popular miso-nabe (bean paste pot) in Meiji era. When McDonald's “landed” in Japan in the 1970s, contrastive attitudes were observed. Ones who psychologically sympathised with the richness and the accompanying power of American culture tended to eat Big Mac, and the others who, though not denying hamburger all together, could not accept the sense of taste of American sauce went for teriyaki Mcburger. In fact, those who prefer the Japanese style hamburger opt for the rice burger of MOS Burger, a Japanese food enterprise established soon after McDonald's Japan. With these derivative developments, such a foreign food as hamburger has gained popularity in Japanese society. Either teriyaki Mcburger or MOS rice burger is concluded as an outcome of local translation with displacement of the contemporary global fast food.

Figure 6.6 sets customers of McDonald's Japan, that is, consumers of hamburgers, on the level of the local. In this setting, it is McDonald's Japan that constructs, in the domain of interface, the relationship with customers. Then, the global could be considered on the level of the national in relation to the position of customers as the local. However, behind the level of the national exists the US headquarters of McDonald's as a globalising force and gives instruction of systematisation in the strong moment of globalisation.

Accordingly, as Fig. 6.7 shows, McDonald's Japan acts globally and glocally and influences consumers located at the local level. As for globalisation, each restaurant applies the basic rules which are standardised in the manual of the US headquarters, though a lot of rules are also set by the headquarters of McDonald's Japan. McDonald's Japan works on fast system, self-service, cleanliness, queue manners, etc. As for glocalisation, diversification of menu mentioned earlier is pointed out. Against the US headquarters of McDonald's, the global centre of its business administration, McDonald's Japan, by glocalising the menu with the introduction of

Fig. 6.7 Structure of cultural interface (2)

teriyaki Mcburger, shows the distinctive aspects of Japanised McDonald's among various McDonald's in the world.

Consumers who are influenced by the acts of McDonald's Japan also act to glocalise them, from the standpoint of the local. That is to slow down the fast action taken by the US headquarters of McDonald's by way of McDonald's Japan and especially to slow down the behaviour of consumption in contrast to the fast production of McDonald's. Slow consumption means eating slowly, chatting with friends after eating, doing homework and spending time in a space equipped with cosy music and air-condition. One of the essences of McDonaldisation is efficiency, but observation of the actual condition of McDonald's in most areas of East Asia reveals that the space which a McDonald's restaurant provides is displaced and made to slow down the fast-paced life. Time and space of a global fast-food restaurant is displaced and translated into slow space to be enjoyed by customers, both male and female and the young and the old in most East Asian societies. It is concluded that consumers are not simply encompassed by the intention of the global fast-food enterprise and are not easily incorporated into it. Rather, they tend to transform the assumed fast space into the slow space in their favour, exerting and maintaining their agency as subjects. From the viewpoint of human agency, this act of glocalisation from below is pointed out with extreme importance.

 
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