We are talking about the "irrationalities of rationalization" in my Intro class. This is an idea derived from Max Weber's "iron cage," and developed most thoroughly by George Ritzer in his many works on McDonaldization. The idea is that as we transform every aspect of society to make it more efficient, calculable, predictable, and technologically controlled -- in a word, rationalized -- we also create unintended irrationalities.
A case in point comes from the news (as it always does when teaching Weber). California marriage licenses used to have a space for the name of the bride and the name of the groom. When the legal definition of marriage was expanded to cover same-sex couples, the state's bureaucrats followed the normal rules of bureaucratic rationalization: they changed the forms. They judged it more rational and efficient to have one form that could cover all cases -- both the traditional form that the vast majority of the form's users would want, and the rare exceptions. They opted for the most abstract, colorless, unromantic terms to use in place of "bride" and "groom." The new forms asked for Party A and Party B.
The "rational" solution to a problem of bureaucratic nomenclature, though, was an irrational reduction of marriage to many of the people who the state bureaucracy is supposed to serve, the taxpayers of California. Two of them, Rachael Bird and Gideon Codding, refused to use the new, abstract form when they got married, prefering to be bride and groom. The state refused to recognize their marriage. Law suits followed. Embarrassing publicity followed, pushing the bureaucrats to remember that rationalization is not supposed to be an end in itself, but to serve the people.
The state of California backed down. Bride and Groom are now back on the marriage license.