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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).


A defense mechanism against difficult and unpleasant situations in which the individual attempts to use plausible means to justify or defend the unacceptable situations.
References in periodicals archive ?
The rationalization of commerce or distribution became a recurring topic in the Swedish trade press and in parliamentary enquiries from the early 1920s.
Having the right products in the product portfolio requires the company to have a formalized management product rationalization process.
With their track record of leading successful enterprise portal assessments, Enterpulse has been integral to refining the Enterprise Portal Rationalization process and extending the reach of BEA WebLogic Platform 8.
The current rationalization plan calls for eliminating 27,000 jobs by the end of fiscal 2002 from the combined 128,000-strong workforce which NTT East and NTT West had at the time of the July 1999 breakup.
Of course, any new meanings that emerge from dialogue will, in themselves, be rationalizations that will tempt us to take them on as universal meanings.
rationalization that it is a loan that will be repaid;
The picture of the American people is not a pretty one, because too many of us have bought the rationalizations Clinton and his sympathizers are peddling.
So even if there is rationalization of corporate entities, there won't be any inclination to drop brands on the floor.
Toomer, raised on the racial boundary in a time of profound contradictions and conflict within the American ideology of "race," understood racialization as one form of the quantification and rationalization of human difference that developed with capitalism and modern slavery - part of what Lukacs would term "reification.
Scale -- the size of the deed -- is just as important as the underlying rationalization or intent behind it.
The ministry is actively promoting such rationalization.
Since conventionally modernized applications will inevitably become "legacy" again, this report also analyzes how rationalization approaches can avoid this fate.