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in psychology: see defense mechanismdefense mechanism,
in psychoanalysis, any of a variety of unconscious personality reactions which the ego uses to protect the conscious mind from threatening feelings and perceptions.
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  1. the general tendency within modern capitalist societies for all institutions and most areas of life to be transformed by the application of RATIONALITY. As seen by WEBER, for example, such a process of rationalization is the master process which underlies the transformation of the economic, political and legal institutions of western societies (notably in the spread of BUREAUCRACY and of systematic forms of accountancy and law). Furthermore, the effects of this process are also evident in other sectors of society, e.g. the bureaucratization of science and learning, and developments in music and in religious organization.

    Weber had major reservations about the implications of the operation of so seemingly inexorable a process, which he sometimes referred to as creating an ‘iron cage’ that would increasingly restrict individuality. He recognized that a narrow calculation of ‘instrumental rationality’ was likely to conflict with 'substantive rationality’ i.e. the rationality of outcomes appraised in terms of wider human objectives. At the same time, however, in a world ‘disenchanted’ by rationality, he did not believe that a 'strictly scientific’basis existed for a generalized conception of human interests or human needs. Human beings possess freedom of action, and must therefore ultimately make their own choices (see also VALUE FREEDOM AND VALUE NEUTRALITY).

    Other theorists have taken a more optimistic view of the outcome of the rationalization process. HABERMAS, for example, has suggested that ‘human interests’ will be identifiable in a context in which a truly democratic critical discourse exists (see also CRITICAL CULTURAL DISCOURSE). In general, however, sociologists have remained more agnostic on such issues (see also FORMAL AND SUBSTANTIVE RATIONALITY).

  2. any after-the-act justification of an action which seeks to present this action in a favourable light, as having a coherent rationale, in circumstances where such a ‘rational’ reconstruction lacks plausibility (compare DEFENCE MECHANISMS).
PARETO regarded many social accounts, including most sociological and political theorizing, as involving rationalization in this general sense, as lacking a truly objective basis (see RESIDUES AND DERIVATIONS). Although emphasizing the importance of distinguishing rationality from nonrationality Pareto had no illusions that rationality could ever become the guiding principle in social and political life; on the contrary, he is usually seen as a key figure in the pessimism about progress that typified much thinking in POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY at the turn of the 19th-century (see ÉLITE THEORY, NEOMACHIAVELLIANS).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000


A defense mechanism against difficult and unpleasant situations in which the individual attempts to use plausible means to justify or defend the unacceptable situations.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
He said the UAE is dealing seriously with this challenge by conducting rationalization campaigns, purifying used water, building dams, and keeping water inside the ground to limit the dependence on desalinating sea water.
There is a point when rationalization reaches the soul, and human beings lose sight of simple right and wrong.
Pinol said he will meet with meat importers and even processors next week to discuss the rationalization program and get their recommendations on the matter.
Principle 8 under the "Risk Assessment" component instructs executives to explicitly consider fraud risk potential and assess rationalization; however, COSO provides few examples of potential fraud rationalizations and does not link them directly with relevant antifraud procedures.
"The rationalization act will just punish those who are already paying," he said.
Under the rationalization plan, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals 1 and 3 will be used exclusively for international flights while Terminals 2 and 4 will be assigned to domestic flights.
One of the key enablers identified for increasing the competitiveness of the export sector is the rationalization of tariffs on critical inputs of the export-oriented industry, said spokesman of the Commerce division.
NNA - Caretaker Ministers of Energy and Education, Gibran Bassil and Hassan Diab, on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to introduce the "energy rationalization" principle in the educational curriculum.
Washington, Dec 15 (ANI): A new study has revealed that rationalization measures often have a major negative impact on both the physical and psychosocial work environment.
The Minister of Culture and Information said the Cabinet then reviewed a number of issues on its agenda and issued the following decisions: The Cabinet approved a number of measures pertaining to the conversion of the National Program for Energy Management and Rationalization at King Abdulaziz City for Sciences and Technology (KACST) into a permanent national centre for energy rationalization at the level of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In its most recent multi-client study, "Atlantic Basin Refinery Rationalization," PFC Energy examines not only how much capacity is likely to be at risk in the medium term (through 2013), but also which refineries are the most likely to be rationalised.
After a couple of years of SKU rationalization, it's time for the retailer and supplier communities to take a close look at the results of those efforts.