McJob is slang for a low-paying, low-prestige dead end job that requires few skills and offers very little chance of intracompany advancement.[1] The term McJob comes from the name of the fast-food restaurant McDonald's, but is used to describe any low-status job — regardless of the employer — where little training is required, staff turnover is high, and workers' activities are tightly regulated by managers. Working at a tedious, unappreciated, low paying job, especially one at a fast food restaurant, is also referred to as flipping burgers or slinging hash.



"McJob" was in use at least as early as 1986, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which defines it as "An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."[2] Lack of job security is common.

The term was coined by sociologist Amitai Etzioni, and appeared in the Washington Post on August 24, 1986 in the article "McJobs are Bad for Kids".[3][4] The term was popularized by Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, described therein as "a low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one."[5]

The term appears in the 1994 novel Interface (by Neal Stephenson and George Jewsbury) to describe in the abstract positions that are briefly held and underpaid. In the 1999 British film Human Traffic, one character's work in a generic burger outlet is referred to as a McJob.

There are often wide variations in how workers are actually treated depending on the local franchise owner. Some employees start out in entry-level McJobs and later become assistant managers or managers, continuing to work at the same franchise for many years; however this is the exception rather than the norm.[6] McDonald's advertises that its CEO, Jim Skinner, began working at the company as a regular restaurant employee, and that 20 of its top 50 managers began work as regular crew members.[7]

According to Jim Cantalupo, former CEO of McDonald's, the perception of fast-food work being boring and mindless is inaccurate, and over 1,000 of the men and women who now own McDonald's franchises began behind the counter.[6][8] Because McDonald's has over 400,000 employees and high turnover, Cantalupo's contention has been criticized as being invalid, working to highlight the exception rather than the rule.[9]

The term "McJob" was added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2003,[10] over the objections of McDonald's. In an open letter to Merriam-Webster, Cantalupo denounced the definition as a "slap in the face" to all restaurant employees, and stated that "a more appropriate definition of a 'McJob' might be 'teaches responsibility.'" Merriam-Webster responded that "[they stood] by the accuracy and appropriateness of [their] definition."

In 2006, McDonald's undertook an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom to challenge the perceptions of the McJob. The campaign, developed by Barkers Advertising and supported by research conducted by Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College London, highlighted the benefits of working for the organization, stating that they were "Not bad for a McJob". So confident were McDonald's of their claims that they ran the campaign on the giant screens of London's Piccadilly Circus.[11]

On 20 March 2007, the BBC reported that the UK arm of McDonald's planned a public petition to have the OED's definition of "McJob" changed.[12][13] Lorraine Homer from McDonald's stated that the company feels the definition is "out of date and inaccurate".[14] McDonald's UK CEO, Peter Beresford, described the term as "demeaning to the hard work and dedication displayed by the 67,000 McDonald's employees throughout the UK".[15] The company would prefer the definition to be rewritten to "reflect a job that is stimulating, rewarding ... and offers skills that last a lifetime."[16][17] These comments run counter to the principle that dictionaries simply record linguistic usage rather than judge it, and that dropping the entry for "McJob" would be a precedent for bowdlerising definitions of other derogatory terms.[16]

During the aforementioned arguments that broke out when Merriam-Webster included "McJob" in its new edition, McDonald's officials implied the company might bring a lawsuit against the dictionary based on this trademark issue, but never did so. McDonald's disputes that its jobs are poor, because the company has been nominated for employee awards that are created by employers.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24] However, this was contradicted in the outcome of the UK McLibel court case, in which the judges ruled that it was fair to say that McDonald's employees worldwide "do badly in terms of pay and conditions".[25]

McJOBS, the trademark

McJOBS (plural, uppercase) was first registered as a trademark by McDonald's on May 16, 1984, as a name and image for "training handicapped persons as restaurant employees". The trademark lapsed in February 1992, and was declared "Canceled"[26] by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Following the October 1992 publication of Generation X in paperback, McDonald's restored the trademark.[27][28]

See also


  1. ^ ""McJob" - entry in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary". Retrieved Feb. 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Merriam-Webster: 'McJob' is here to stay". The Associated Press. November 11, 2003.
  3. ^ B170
  4. ^ Stephenson, -- W.E. (1986-08-30). "McJobs Are Good for Kids". 
  5. ^ Coupland, Douglas. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. St Martin's Press, 1991. p. 5 ISBN 0-312-05436-X
  6. ^ a b My Day on the Breakfast Shift
  7. ^ 09/21/05 - McDonald's Debuts Advertising on the World of Opportunity Under the Golden Arches
  8. ^ "McDonald's anger over McJob entry". BBC News. 2003-11-09. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  9. ^ McJobs are giving Britain a reputation as Europe's offshore banana republic
  10. ^ CNN. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Not bad for a McJob?" Management Issues. June 8, 2006
  12. ^ McDonald's McJob Petition
  13. ^ BBC NEWS | Talk about Newsnight | “Gis a McJob”
  14. ^ BBC (2007-03-20). "McDonald's seeks McJob rewrite". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  15. ^ "CNN International, 24 March 2007". 
  16. ^ a b "Can McDonald's Alter the Dictionary?". Time. 2007-06-05.,8599,1628391,00.html. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  17. ^ Thread, Open (2007-05-24). "A new McDefinition?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  18. ^ Britain's Top Employers 2008 - McDonald's Restaurants Ltd Company Profile
  19. ^ The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers - The Top 100
  20. ^ / Reports / Best workplaces 2007
  21. ^
  22. ^ - Jobs recruitment employment vacancies careers
  23. ^ Employer of the Year Awards 2006
  24. ^ McDonald's shrugs off 'McJob curse' to win Best Place to Work in Hospitality Award
  25. ^ Press Release - McLibel Support Campaign; 25th March 1999
  26. ^ Original trademark status from the USPTO TARR system
  27. ^ Restored trademark status from the USPTO TARR system
  28. ^ Press Release - McLibel Support Campaign; 25th March 1999

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • McJob — est un mot argotique pour désigner un emploi peu qualifié, mal payé, sans prestige et sans perspective d avenir. Le terme vient du nom de la chaîne de restauration rapide McDonald s, mais il s applique à tous les emplois peu qualifiés qui ne… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • McJob — ist eine Pejoration für Arbeitsplätze im Niedriglohnbereich, die in verschiedenen englischsprachigen Wörterbüchern und dem „Wörterbuch der New Economy“ aus dem Duden Verlag Eingang fand. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft 2 Kontroversen 3 Literatur …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • mcjob — To describe the act or working for, or searching for work that is of the McDonald s variety. Mom, I think I m just going to McJob for the summer. I don t want to go through all the work of putting up resumes and finding something real …   Dictionary of american slang

  • mcjob — To describe the act or working for, or searching for work that is of the McDonald s variety. Mom, I think I m just going to McJob for the summer. I don t want to go through all the work of putting up resumes and finding something real …   Dictionary of american slang

  • McJob — noun Date: 1986 a low paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • McJob — /meuhk job /, n. an unstimulating, low wage job with few benefits, esp. in a service industry. [1991, Amer.; coined by Douglas Coupland (b. 1961) in the novel Generation X] * * * …   Universalium

  • McJob — noun A job paying low wages, requiring few skills and having little opportunity for promotion. Many politicos claim most new jobs are low pay, dead enders, “McJobs.” …   Wiktionary

  • McJob —  (Cap. M, cap. J.) Slang term for a low wage job, usually in the service sector …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • McJob — n American a menial and/or temporary job. The term arose in connection with the slacker gen eration/Generation X and was based on the notion of educated middle class youngsters taking temporary jobs at, e.g., McDonald s burger restaurants. ►… …   Contemporary slang

  • McJob — n. poorly paid job in the service sector; low paying job …   English contemporary dictionary

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