In his book, Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy, Henry Richardson suggests a process-based objection to bureaucracy – that is, an objection to bureaucracy that does not refer primarily to results, but rather to an ethical flaw that is inherent to bureaucratic procedures. Richardson’s worry is that, while large and complex societies rely on bureaucratic agencies to implement policies, there is a threat of those within bureaucratic institutions having more power than the average citizen when (...) it comes to making specific decisions about how to enact policy, and that this inequality in decision making power may be unjustified because undemocratic. If such inequality in decision making power is indeed a real threat, it will turn out that bureaucratic organisations, while being largely motivated by considerations of procedural fairness, may in fact constitute quite unfair procedures. Richardson proposes some institutional reforms that he thinks will enable us to avoid being dominated by bureaucracies, while retaining bureaucratic agencies, which he believes are necessary in modern societies. In what follows, I illustrate Richardson’s worry about bureaucratic domination and his proposed solution to the problem with a simplified, concrete example. If we compare Richardson’s proposed institutional reforms with Max Weber’s analysis of the concept of bureaucracy, however, I argue that it becomes apparent that bureaucracy is in fact incompatible with the sort of democracy that Richardson favours. If I am correct, this means that to the extent that we adopt Richardson’s proposed reforms, we will be replacing bureaucracies with something else. (shrink)
Early reactions to the publication of Harold Garfinkel's Studies in Ethnomethodology, which have persisted over the passing decades, was that ethnomethodology could not address what sociology deemed to be socially significant matters such as 'power' and 'the state'. This, however, is not the case. How such matters enter into the practical everyday affairs of members is of equal interest to ethnomethodology when compared to how any matter enters into members' everyday life, and how they display that. It just does not (...) have more importance. Egon Bittner spelt this out with regard to Weber's interest in bureaucracy when he reminds sociology that when Weber talked about efficiency he was not referring to an objective standard but as something that is attuned to practical interests as they emerge in the context of everyday life. This paper examines some of the actions and interactions that were encountered in a Governmental Department in one of the European countries. It makes visible how characterisations of bureaucracy such as 'rational', and 'efficient' are achieved in the actions and interactions of Department employees, and some of the practices involved in that achievement. Garfinkel, and ethnomethodology in general, are not, in principle, to be found wanting where matters of overarching, primordial interest to sociology are concerned. (shrink)
Most accounts of Jeremy Bentham deal with him as a prophet of either utilitarianism or of liberal democracy. This book discusses a less familiar but very important aspect of his political thought: his theory of how government institutions should be organised in order to function as efficient and yet responsive guardians of the community's interests. It thus focuses on his programme for he executive and judicial branches of government rather than for the legislature and the electorate. Dr Hume suggests that (...) eighteenth-century political thought was richer in ideas about government that has usually been allowed, but that Bentham's special qualities of mind enabled him to widen and deepen those ideas much further than his contemporaries could have foreseen. (shrink)
In this volume, a group of international scholars address issues relating to community well being and the role of politics, law and economics in Europe and Japan in achieving human-centered symbiotic governance. Case-studies and suggestions for reform are presented in the arenas of economy, government administration, management, university governance, health, agriculture, the environment and urban planning.
Review Articles : Cornelius Castoriadis, Political and Social Writ ings. Volume One: 1946-1955. From the Critique of Bu reaucracy to the Positive Content of Socialism. Volume Two: 1955-1960. From the Workers Struggle Against Bureaucracy to Revolution in the Age of Modern Capitalism, trans. and ed. by David Ames Curtis.
Many problems of inequality in developing countries resist treatment by formal egalitarian policies. To deal with these problems, we must shift from a distributive to a relational conception of equality, founded on opposition to social hierarchy. Yet the production of many goods requires the coordination of wills by means of commands. In these cases, egalitarians must seek to tame rather than abolish hierarchy. I argue that bureaucracy offers important constraints on command hierarchies that help promote the equality of workers (...) in bureaucratic organizations. Bureaucracy thus constitutes a vital if limited egalitarian tool applicable to developing and developed countries alike. (shrink)
“Disenchantment” has been a popular trope in the social sciences since Max Weber's appropriation of the term nearly a century ago. In recent years, however, scholars have come to argue that, in contrast to the standard modernization story of unabated rationalization, organizations have long been subject to countervailing forces. In this essay, David Diehl uses modern reinterpretations of the “disenchantment” thesis to suggest that the structure of contemporary schooling is the product of ongoing cultural efforts to re-enchant public life by (...) infusing rational bureaucracy with Romantic impulses in order to combat alienation and social fragmentation. Moreover, Diehl argues that the changing relationship between rationality and Romanticism has taken a unique form in the contemporary period and that recognizing this helps us to better understand the paradoxical modern push for schools to achieve seemingly incompatible goals such as diversity and standardization, community and accountability, and creativity and efficiency. (shrink)
First, something about the word. 'Bureau' (French, borrowed into German) is a desk, or by extension an office (as in 'I will be at the office tomorrow'; 'I work at the Bureau of Statistics'). 'Bureaucracy' is rule conducted from a desk or office, i.e. by the preparation and dispatch of written documents - or, these days, their electronic equivalent. In the office are kept records of communications sent and received, the files or archives, consulted in preparing new ones. This (...) kind of rule is of course not found in the ancient classifications of kinds of government: monarchy, aristocracy, democracy - and bureaucracy? In fact it does not belong in such a classification. It is a servant of government, a means by which a monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, or other form of government, rules. Those who invented the word wanted to suggest that the servant was trying to become the master. Weber is of course aware of this tendency; in fact he attacked the pretensions of the Prussian bureaucracy to be an objective and neutral servant of society, above politics, and emphasized that every bureaucracy has interests of its own, and connections with other social strata (especially among the upper classes); see Beetham, chapter 3. But formally and in theory the bureaucracy is merely a means, and this is largely true also in practice: someone must provide policy direction and back the bureaucrat up (if necessary) with force. 'At the top of a bureaucratic organization, there is necessarily an element which is at least not purely bureaucratic', SEO, p. 335, to give policy direction. (shrink)
Abstract In a certain sense, voluntary communities and market relationships are relatively less coercive than democracy and bureaucracy: they offer more positive freedom. In that respect, they are more like romantic relationships or friendships than are democracies and bureaucracies. This tends to make voluntary communities and markets not only more pleasant forms of interaction, but more effective ones?contrary to Weber's confidence in the superior rationality of bureaucratic control.
Weber's discussion of bureaucracy is generally taken as descriptive of organized social structure within a rational-legal society. This is understandable; yet elsewhere in Weber's sociology he cautions against precisely this kind of analysis. His counsel against reification, his emphasis upon subjective ideas standing behind social action, his characterization of "society" as subjective orientation to legitimacy, his discussion of organization and social relationships as probabilities of behavior in accordance with subjective belief in their existence, and his tendency to describe the (...) wide range of world views within the vocabularies of those who subscribe to them-all mitigate against viewing his description of bureaucratic standardization as Weber's own world view, much less as his sociology. Rather the discussion can be understood as a description of bureaucracy from within the bureaucratic setting and as a set of ideas subjectively held to as a basis of legitimacy, ideas whose truth value are largely irrelevant for Weberian analysis. This qualification of bureaucracy as a mentality supplements the more widely acknowledged ideal-type qualification and provides a basis for increased Weberian insight. Such insight dovetails with post-functionalist sociological theory, explains the origins and consequences of functionalist theory, and provides new understandings of recent findings in empirically based research. Moreover, it helps to focus current research away from bureaucracy as an existent entity and toward a phenomenon Weber identifies as the central process of Western civilization: the rationalization (bureaucratization) of human behavior, a process both unfulfillable and unstoppable. (shrink)
The “Fourth International Conference on the Comparative, Historical and Critical Analysis of Bureaucracy” was held in Vancouver, B.C., September 2-6,1985. Focusing on the relations between “Bureaucracy and Culture,” the conference program promised to have sections on intellectuals, the labor movement, prisons, mass culture, the new class, state terrorism, etc. As is usually the case in even the best organized conferences, however, most speakers paid only lip service to their assigned theme and chose to discuss instead whatever they happened (...) to be working on. The predictable result, of course, was that when these various Leibnizian monads were forced by the collective discussion to focus on the issues at hand, they simply fell back on recycling well-worn political stances to confront specific questions with automatic easy answers. (shrink)
Elizabeth Anderson argues for civic as against distributive egalitarianism. I agree with civic egalitarianism understood as a public ideal, and welcome her interest in the sociological conditions under which it may best flourish. But I argue that she is mistaken in opposing what she calls 'hierarchies of esteem' and proposing that where the egalitarian ideal has insufficient hold on civil society it should be implemented by an efficient bureaucracy. We should learn a different lesson from Max Weber. What the (...) ideal of equality needs is not more bureaucracy but more influential advocacy—and that requires healthy 'hierarchies of esteem'. (shrink)
An important literature exists on bureaucracy. It deals with economic and political consequences. Many scholars analysed these particular organizations and different schools of thought provided their own interpretation of bureaucratic phenomena. Mises’ theory of bureaucracy is known as being an important contribution from the Austrian economics school. However, the political dimension of his works on bureaucracy is less known. This article proposes an analysis of such a dimension.
A distinction between �consensual� and �critical� Conservatism would seem to provide a useful framework for analysing the intellectual approaches of conservative thinkers to the question of bureaucracy in Britain in the modern period. It is suggested here that, although in the nineteenth century there quickly emerged a dominant, liberal/conservative consensual approach to bureaucracy, there has also been a lively, countervailing and critical set of conservative ideas and concerns. This critical approach itself contains many strands; it has contributed to (...) the vitality of conservative ideas on the subject and many of the concerns of contemporary right wing critics of bureaucracy have their antecedents far back in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century ideas. (shrink)
Western Zhou Dynasty Western Zhou bronze inscriptions is to study the history of one of the most important historical data, subject to accurate staging and the Interpretation of the premise. Mid-Western Zhou season Ding, Jin Yang Gui and other information in the "Sikou" is not the official said, there is always a judicial official weekly generation "Sikou" of the set or with a similar view can not be established. Zhou, "Sikou" the establishment of very late times, can only be derived (...) up to the West weekend leaves, and its position is not high, in order to arrest Koudao, maintaining social order as the main ministry. Bureaucracy in the recovery of the Western Zhou Dynasty, it should distinguish Officials with the ministry, and not with the "Rites" and other literature forced analogy. Bronze inscriptions in Western Thou can become a vital historical evidence to study its history, only on the condition of a prudent periodization and explanation. Sikou in bronze inscriptions on xiaojiding and yanggui is not a name for official rank. The argument that there ever existed a judicial office of sikou and alike during the whole Thou Dynasty is problematic. Instead, it was set up as late as in the end of Western Zhou. Ranked rather low, sikou was mainly in charge of conning after robbers and guarding the social security. When doing research on the reinstatement of the bureaucracy in Western Thou, the official rank and its responsibility should be considered in separation, and any effort to conform them to that in zhouli is questionable. (shrink)
This article examines difficulties with bureaucratic reform for transitional economies, drawing on the American experience. Bureaucracies have incentive and performance problems that could retard economic growth in transitional economies. A remedy for a politicized corrupt bureaucracy is an autonomous, professional bureaucracy, chosen on the basis of merit. This article argues, however, such a move will not necessarily bring improvement. Political controls over the bureaucracy must be developed and inserted so that the bureaucracy has incentives to be (...) more efficient and to be more responsive to changing citizen demands. The American experience indicates that absent such provisions, a highly-protected, professional bureaucracy can engage in opportunism to advance its interests and those interests may not coincide with promoting economic growth.Cet article examine les difficultés auxquelles font face les tentatives de réforme de la bureaucratie dans les économies en transition en sinspirant de lexpérience américaine. Les questions dincitation et linefficacité des bureaucraties pourraient retarder la croissance économique dans les économies en transition. Une bureaucratie autonome, professionnelle, choisie sur la base du mérite est un remède à une bureaucratie politiquement corrompue. Cependant, cet article soutient quune telle démarche nengendre pas nécessairement des améliorations. Il faut en plus élaborer des contrôles politiques de la bureaucratie afin que celle-ci soit incitée à être plus efficace et davantage sensible aux besoins changeants des citoyens. Lexpérience américaine indique quen labsence de telles dispositions, une bureaucratie professionnelle et très protégée peut se comporter de manière opportuniste en cherchant à promouvoir ses propres intérêts, pas toujours compatibles avec laccélération de la croissance économique. (shrink)
In this book, Professor McGarity reveals the complex and problematic relationship between the 'regulatory reform' movements initiated in the early l970s and the United States' federal bureaucracy. Examining both the theory and application of 'regulatory reform' under the Reagan administration, the author succeeds in offering both a relevant analysis and critique of 'regulatory reform' and its implementation through bureaucratic channels. Using several case studies from the early Reagan years, this book describes the clash of regulatory cultures resulting from the (...) President's attempt to incorporate 'regulatory analysis' into the bureaucratic decision-making process. Yet while McGarity recognizes the limitations of regulatory analysis, he concludes with suggestions for enhancing its effectiveness. This book could be used not only as a textbook for political science and government courses but also for graduate applications in public policy and public administration. (shrink)
Claude Lefort is one of the leading social and political theorists in France today. This anthology of his most important work published over the last four decades makes his writing widely accessible to an English-speaking audience for the first time.With exceptional skill Lefort combines the analysis of contemporary political events with a sensitivity to the history of political thought. His critical account of the development of bureaucracy and totalitarianism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is a timely contribution (...) to current debates about the nature and shortcomings of these societies. His incisive analyses of Marx's theory of history and concept of ideology provide the backdrop for a highly original account of the role of symbolism in modern societies. While critical of many traditional assumptions and doctrines, Lefort develops a political position based on a reappraisal of the idea of human rights and a reconsideration of what "democracy" means today.The Political Forms of Modern Society is a major contribution to contemporary social and political theory. The volume includes a substantial introduction that describes the context of Lefort's writings and highlights the central themes of his work.Claude Lefort teaches social and political theory at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He was a founder, with Cornelius Castoriadis, of the influential independent journal of the left, Socialisme ou Barbarie. John B. Thompson is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. (shrink)
In a recent issue of The Lancet, the historian Roger Cooter predicted that the field of bioethics will soon die of self-inflicted wounds. “Conspiring against it,” he wrote, “is exposure of the funding of some of its US centres by pharmaceutical companies; exclusion of alternative perspectives from the social sciences; retention of narrow analytical notions of ethics in the face of popular expression and academic respect for the place of emotions; divisions within the discipline ; and collusion with, and appropriation (...) by, clinical medicine.” Cooter's prognosis? “Hardly wet behind the ears, bioethics seems destined for a short lifespan.”. (shrink)
The authors discuss findings from a qualitative research project concerning applied ethics that was undertaken at a general family counseling agency in southern Ontario. Interview data suggested that workers need to dialogue about ethical dilemmas, but that such dialogue demands a high level of risk taking that feels unsafe in the organization. This finding led the researchers to examine their own sense of "breaking rules" by suggesting an intersubjective view of ethics that requires a "safe space" for ethical dialogue. The (...) authors critique the individualistic tendency of professional ethics as an effect of power that is tied to the history of professionalism, and discuss the role of bureaucracies in diminishing a central role for ethics in helping services. The authors call for elaboration of critical perspectives on ethics in order to promote the centrality of ethics in the helping professions. (shrink)
Several prominent analysts, including Heilbroner, Ophuls, and Passmore, have drawn bleak conclusions regarding the implications of contemporary environmental realities for the future of democracy. I establish, however, that the day-to-day practice of environmental politics has often had an opposite effect: democratic processes have been enhanced. I conclude that the resolution of environmental problems may weIl be more promising within a political context which is more rather than less democratic.