Purpose of assignment:
The purpose of this assignment is to comparatively assess the success and impact of McDonald’s
both in the United States and globally with another American global fast food corporation. KFC
(Kentucky Fried Chicken) is suggested, but you may use other examples such as Subway, Starbucks,
or Pizza Hut. The fast food restaurant must be one that is not just domestically but internationally
successful and prominent. You may also use Coca-Cola, although it will be harder to do a direct
comparison with McDonald’s since Coca-Cola is a beverage company and not a fast food restaurant.
Before you begin the assignment, closely review all relevant materials from Modules 3 and 4
(lectures, readings, videos) and take relevant notes about the reasons for McDonald’s domestic and
global success, the various strategies it has used, the ways it has dealt with problems and criticisms,
and the corporation’s impact on local societies (such as their food cultures and health) both at home
and abroad. Then do internet research on KFC or another global American fast food chain restaurant
and try to find information on similar issues. Since other American fast food corporations have not
been studied (or reported on) as much as McDonald’s, it will be more difficult to find information
about them, especially in terms of their international/global operations, but do your best with the
limited information you can find. Examine the corporation’s official webpage, Wikipedia articles,
news reports, YouTube and other videos, and other websites (it is a good idea to do multiple
keyword searches on Google or other search engines). Although it is not required, you can also
search for scholarly research done on the chain restaurant on Google Scholar by doing keyword
searches. Takes notes on or copy into MS Word everything you think is relevant from the various
In addition, conduct anthropological participant observation by eating at both McDonald’s and the
other fast food restaurant that you have chosen (if you have dietary restrictions or serious health
concerns and cannot eat most of the main menu items, please note this in your assignment and try to
consume menu items that you can eat). Gather data as a participant observer by closely observing
what is going on at both restaurants and taking detailed field notes (take a pen and writing pad or
laptop/tablet PC with you and stay at each restaurant for at least an hour). Write down detailed field
notes about both the menu items and your meal, the outdoor/indoor décor and ambience, the
behavior and interactions of customers and restaurant employees, the service you (and other
customers) receive, the promotions and advertisements you see in the restaurant, what you can
observe about the food preparation, etc. Try to take as many detailed field notes as possible about
what you observe (what you see, hear, smell, etc.), even if they don’t seem immediately relevant,
since it is hard to judge in the field what is important before you analyze the material and write the
paper. You may also informally talk to customers in the restaurant and ask them relevant questions
(if you are comfortable and brave enough to do so), although this is not required. Write down
everything you remember about what they said right after the conversation(s). It is not appropriate
to informally interview restaurant staff during paid work hours and you would need management
approval to do so. If you have eaten at the chain restaurant outside the United States, you can use
what you remember of that experience as well (in that case, write down what you remember), but
you must still conduct participant observation at the two restaurants in the US (or where ever you
If you are not fully vaccinated and boosted, please wear a mask when you conduct participant
observation and maintain 6 feet of social distance from other people at the restaurant.
Issues and questions to consider when writing the paper:
Analyze all of the notes you have taken (from course materials, internet sources, and participant
observation) in order to compare the success, strategies, and local impacts of the two global chain
restaurants in both the United States and abroad. Which has been more successful and why? What
types of similar or different strategies have they used to popularize their food in the U.S. and around
the world and how effectively have they dealt with problems, challenges, and criticisms? Which has
had greater (as well as more positive or negative) impacts on local food cultures, diets, and health in
the United States and around the world?
Paper length and citations:
Your paper should be about 5 pages, double-spaced. Somewhat longer papers are acceptable as long
as they are not repetitive or longwinded.
You must cite materials you use from course readings by indicating the author and page number in
parentheses, for example, (Ritzer, p.296). No bibliography or a list of works cited is necessary at the
end of your essays, unless you use readings (books and articles) not assigned for the course (which is
not required or necessary, but optional). In that case, you may use any citation format you wish. If
you wish to cite a lecture, indicate the module and lecture number (and time-stamp if you have it) in
parentheses, for example, (Module 2, Lecture 1, 13:45). All direct quotations from the readings and
lectures must be cited, as well as when you paraphrase what is said/written in them. In order to use
information from the internet in your assignment, you can cite it by inserting the URL/web address
in parenthesis in your text. You do not need a list of all the websites you consulted at the end of the
Your assignment will be graded based on the following three criteria:
1) Quality of primary data (33% of grade): Does the assignment show evidence that the student
collected sufficient and effective information from the internet (or other) sources and participant
observation in the two chain restaurants?
2) Course content and analysis (33% of grade): Is the student analyzing the primary data effectively
by using and/or referencing course material from the lectures, readings, and videos?
3) Organization and writing (33% of grade): Is the assignment well-organized and written?
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