Sociiology has always held a firm place in the world especially due to the way it can relate to our current society. One theorist's work that has become a part of our everyday life is Max Weber. Though Weber’s theories have been criticized by many, though some of the concepts he came up with have some practical use in contemporary society. Two of the most important concepts that have a place in society would be his idea of rationalization and his theory of authority, specifically contemporary authority.
Using Max Weber's theory of rationalization, sociologist George Ritzer makes the case for how McDonald’s manages to capture the major features of formal rationality, the concept is called McDonaldization. Ritzer writes, “The McDonald’s restaurant embodies major institutionalized features of formal rationality: calculability, efficiency, predictability, control of uncertainty, and the increasing use of technology. In short, the McDonald’s restaurant has introduced a form of consumption which is reliable, is cheap, and fits well into consumer societies that are organized around speed and efficiency.” The same ideas can be used when it comes to the changes in how people consume luxury goods.
To begin with, people can have anything delivered right to their doorstep via Amazon or many other retailers attempting to keep up with Amazon’s expansion into certain industries. Luxury has been reprioritized in society because it can be somewhat attainable. Now with websites like Amazon or other means, a person can look like they are of a higher social status, which is what the changing luxury culture has really come to represent… status. Even before, Amazon was in vogue, Wal-Mart had a variety of items to make anyone appear upper class.
People buy the latest pair of Jordan’s, not because they play basketball, but because they represent a person’s ability to afford sneakers that cost over $750 dollars. Society has shifted from luxury being a rare part of life to demanding the right to luxury. An example of this can come in the form of the website, bagborroworsteal.com. This website has allowed people to rent purses of any brand, whether your taste is Louis Vuitton or a classic Chanel, anyone can seem like their style is straight out of the pages of Vogue magazine. Elitism is something of a dying look because so many people can give off the illusion of wealth.
This is not the only theory of Weber’s that has some application to current times. Another application of one of Weber's theory would be his concept of charismatic authority. One example of this would be Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. Unlike some of his opponents, he didn't run on the issues, but rather, he ran on promises of being able to disrupt the goings on of the government.
However, Donald Trump is not the originator of the charismatic authority that began during the 2016 election. It originally began with Bernie Sanders as he was able to bring the charisma of someone who could bring real change to government and certain policies, but without the lacking political experience of Donald Trump.
The problem with those two is that Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic nomination. With this, many people switched to being Donald Trump supporters because they wanted a politician to make changes in government that would benefit them. Trump's charisma is best seen at the Republican National Convention when the crowd is chanting, "Lock Her Up" as well as the media presence he holds today.
He still has a charismatic based authority over people despite how disliked he has become since he was elected. Max Weber’s theories still have a place in society, now more than ever. With the rise of politicians and other leaders ruling with a charismatic authority about them and the changing culture of consumerism, his theories can be used as a means of looking to what may lie ahead.