RATIONAL- LEGAL AUTHORITY
Rational-legal authority (also known as rational authority, legal authority, rational domination, legal domination, or bureaucratic authority) is a form of leadership in which the authority of an organization or a ruling regime is largely tied to legal rationality, legal legitimacy and bureaucracy. The majority of the modern states of the twentieth century are rational-legal authorities, according to those who use this form of classification Authority Types
Traditional authority is legitimated by the sanctity of tradition. The ability and right to rule is passed down, often through heredity. It does not change overtime, does not facilitate social change, tends to be irrational and inconsistent, and perpetuates the status quo. In fact, Weber states: “The creation of new law opposite traditional norms is deemed impossible in principle.” Traditional authority is typically embodied in feudalism or patrimonialism. In a purely patriarchal structure, “the servants are completely and personally dependent upon the lord”, while in an estate system (i.e. feudalism), “the servants are not personal servants of the lord but independent men” (Weber 1958, 4). But, in both cases the system of authority does not change or evolve. Charismatic authority is found in a leader whose mission and vision inspire others. It is based upon the perceived extraordinary characteristics of an individual. Weber saw a charismatic leader as the head of a new social movement, and one instilled with divine or supernatural powers, such as a religious prophet. Weber seemed to favor charismatic authority, and spent a good deal of time discussing it. In a study of charisma and religion, Riesebrodt argues that Weber also thought charisma played a strong - if not integral - role in traditional authority systems. Thus, Weber’s favor for charismatic authority was particularly strong, especially in focusing on what happened to it with the death or decliAne of a charismatic leader. Charismatic authority is “routinized” in a number of ways according to Weber: orders are traditionalized, the staff or followers change into legal or “estate-like” (traditional) staff, or the meaning of charisma itself may undergo change. Legal-rational authority is empowered by a formalistic belief in the content of the law (legal) or natural law (rationality). Obedience is not given to a specific individual leader - whether traditional or charismatic - but a set of uniform principles. Weber thought the best example of legal-rational authority was a bureaucracy (political or economic). This form of authority is frequently found in the modern state, city governments, private and public corporations, and various voluntary associations. In fact, Weber stated that the “development of the modern state is identical indeed with that of modern officialdom and bureaucratic organizations just as the development of modern capitalism is identical with the increasing bureaucratization of economic enterprise. Inter-relationships
Weber’s theory of authority is very rich and intricate. Weber and others have detailed many interesting relationships and processes occurring between the types. Blau’s “Critical Remarks on Weber’s Theory of Authority” explains two of these in particular, components that either strengthen or weaken an authority type in regards to another. The three authority types may be re-enforced by traits that differentiate them from other types. Traditional authority is impersonal (unlike charisma) and non-rational (unlike legal-rational). Charismatic authority is dynamic (unlike tradition) and non-rational (again, unlike legal-rational). Finally, legal-rational authority is dynamic (unlike tradition) and impersonal (unlike charisma). Conversely, Blau means to say that traditional is un-dynamic, charisma is personal, and legal-rational is rational. The likelihood of retaining a particular type of authority may depend on the ability of that authority system to...
References: * Ashley, David and David Michael Orenstein, Sociological Theory: Classical Statements, third edition, Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 1995.
* Cohen, Ira J., "Theories of Action and Praxis," in Bryan S. Turner, editor, The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, Oxford, Blackwell, 1996..
* Hadden, Richard W., Sociological Theory: An Introduction to the Classical Tradition, Peterborough, Broadview Press, 1997.
* Blau, P. M. (1963). "Critical remarks on Weber’s theory of authority". The American Political Science Review,
* Crass, C
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