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Scott A. Rationalization. 2011.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/9694
Rationalization refers to a historical process in which one form of reasoning or rationality - instrumental rationality - grounded in a distinction between means and ends and based on calculation comes to predominate. The spread of instrumental reason is closely associated with intellectual developments in Europe since the Reformation and is thought to be embodied in and borne by such key social institutions as the modern (rational) legal system, the state governed by the rule of law (the 'Rechtsstaat'), bureaucracy, and rational, as opposed to adventure or robber, capitalism. The term rationalization is most closely associated with Max Weber, but was adopted for use in critical theory as a key element in its critique of domination, of capitalism, and of instrumental reason. Rationalization remains a central concept in the analysis of modernity. Consumption (in the shape of mass consumption) was taken, by critical theorists, to be a symptom of rationalization, whereas in more recent literature, consumption is understood as an object of rationalization.