Max Weber Bureaucracy

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Preliminary Exam Summary; Section: Organizations
By Eileen Bevis

Weber, Max. Economy and Society. Edited Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. New York: Bedminister Press, 1968, vol. 1, Conceptual Exposition, pgs. 956-1005, “Bureaucracy”.

The chapter on “Bureaucracy” is in vol. 3 of E&S, along with six other chapters on various types of domination, legitimacy, and authority. What you should know, context-wise: bureaucracy is the typical expression of rationally regulated association within a structure of domination.[1] This chapter is a schematic outline of the structural characteristics, origins (= necessary conditions), and effects of bureaucracy. Fully-developed bureaucracies are impersonal, “objective,” indestructible, indispensable, born out of inherent technical superiority, cause social leveling, and boost rationalism [among MANY other things].

I. Characteristics of a Modern Bureaucracy, a.k.a. Modern “Officialdom” (956-958) A. Jurisdictional areas are generally ordered by rules = laws = administrative regulations (956). 1. Regular activities required by the bureaucracy are assigned as official duties. 2. The authority to command the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is delimited by rules concerning acceptable coercive means. 3. The regular and continuous fulfillment of these duties is provided for in a methodical way. These three elements constitute:

- a bureaucratic agency in the sphere of the state - a bureaucratic enterprise in the sphere of the private economy Bureaucracy is fully developed only in modern state or modern economy = capitalism. B. There is a clearly established office hierarchy system of super- and sub-ordination in which there is a supervision of lower offices by higher ones and regulated channels of appeal (957). The fully developed bureaucracy is “monocratically organized” [ruled by a single person, such as a Prime Minister]. Ideally, the higher authority never takes over the lower authority’s business [bureaucracy would then ‘shrink’]; instead, lower authority’s offices will always be filled in the case of a vacancy [bureaucracy thus always and only grows larger]. C. Management is based on written documents and a staff of subaltern officials and scribes. The officials plus their “files” and materials make up a bureau. In principle, official bureau activity is kept separate from private home life [for relevance of this point, think $$] (957). D. Office management usually presupposes thorough, specialized training (958). E. Official activity demands full working capacity of the official in a fully developed bureaucracy (958). F. Management of the office follows general rules, which are pretty stable, exhaustive, and learnable (958). Knowledge of these rules constitutes special technical expertise. II. The position of the official within and outside of the bureaucracy (958-963) A. Office Holding as a Vocation

a. True because there is a required, prescribed course of training and exams which takes up full working capacity for a long time, has special exams b. Also true because position of the official is seen as a “duty”—official doesn’t own position, but rather agrees to fulfill “impersonal and functional purposes” of office in exchange for secure guarantee of existence. B. The Social Position of the Official

a. The modern official always strives for and usually attains a distinctly elevated social esteem vis-a-vis the governed. Officials have highest social position where there is demand for expert administration and there is a strong hold of status conventions/social differentiation (e.g. not in U.S.) (959-60). b. Elected officials hold autonomous positions vis-à-vis their supervisors. Appointed officials function more...
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