The Concept of Bureaucracy

The Concept of Bureaucracy
1 . aracterisfics of Bureaucracy such as those of the ancient Orient, the Germanic and
Mongolian empires of conquest, or of many feudal
Modem officialdom functions in the following SPe_ structures of state. In all these cases, the ruler exe-
cific manner, cutes the most important measures through personal
trustees, table-companions, or court-servants. Their
I. There is the principle of fixed and official juris- f=°mm1SSi°nS and a“th_°fitY are Po‘ Pre°}S°‘Y delim-
dictional areas’ which are generally Ordered by rules, ited and are temporarily called into being for each
that is, by laws or administrative regulations. case‘ 4
1_ The regular activities required ft); the purposes of The p1’lI1Clp1CS Of OffiCC hierarchy and Of1CVC1S Of
the bureaucratically governed structure are dis- graded eutherit)’ rheah 3 firrrlly Ordered System Of
ti-ihuted in a fixed way as official duties super- and subordination in which there is a supervi-
2_ The authoi-ity to give the commands required for sion of the lower offices by the higher ones. Such a
the discharge of these duties is distributed in a sta- System Offers the goVerhed the Pessibrhtl’ ot 3PPea1‘
ble way and is strictly delilnjted rules concern- the dCCiSlOI’I Of 3 IOWCI OffiCC to ltS higher au-
ing the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or thoritY» hr 3 defihiteh’ regulated hrahheh Vvrth the fun
othetwise, which may he placed at the disposal of development of the bureaucratic type, the office hi-
officia1s_ erarchy is rnonocratically organized. The principle of
3_ Methodical provision is made for the regular and hierarchical office authority is found in all bureau-
continuous fulfilment of these duties and for the cratic structures: in state and ecclesiastical structures
execution of the Co1-responding only Per. as W811 218 large organizations and private CI]-
sons who have the generally regulated qualifica. terprises. It does not matter for the character of bu-
tions to serve ate employed reaucracy whether its authority is called “private†or

In public and lawful government these three ele- when the Prh1eiP1e etlhrrsdietiehal “eerhpeteheyâ€
merits constitute “bureaucratic authority.†In private is fully Carried through» hier arehiee-1 S“b°rdih3tt°h-
economic domination, they constitute bureaucratic at least hr Puhhe offiee-doeS r1ot mean that the
“inanagetnent_†Bureaucracy, thus understood, is fully “higher†authority is simply authorized to take over
developed in political and ecclesiastical communities the business of the “lower.†Indeed, the opposite is the
only the modern state, and, the private ecgngmy, rule. OIICC established and task, an
only in the most advanced institutions of capitalism office tends to continue in existence and be held by
Permanent and public office authority, with fixed ju- 31107-her iI1e1lrI1beI1t-
risdiction, is not the historical rule but rather the ex-
ceptiom This is so even in large Political Stmcmres H1. The management of the modern office is based

upon written documents (“the files†), which are pre-
Excerpts from Bureaucracy, fromMax Weber: Essays in Sociology served in their original or draught form. There is,
3;’Vafiflfchfigtfifiigfixfiaflf~1g§a;Si‘;t;g therefore, a staff of subaltern officials and scribes of
by H_ H. Gem and C_ wn-ghtim-iis_ Used by permission of Oxford all sorts. The body of officials actively engaged in a
University Press, Inc. “public†office, along with the respective apparatus

68 Chapter 2 / The Formal Structure: The Concept of Bureaucracy
Arts and Tufts University. For two and a half months she had been dating 22-year-old
K Michael Cartier a local nightclub bouncer, but had broken up with him on April 16. That
7 night he became violent, beating her up a few blocks from her apartment. lncreasingly
he became obsessed by her rejection of him.

What follows is a sorry tale of Kristin’s attempts ‘to rely on the bureaucratic system
and the subsequent breakdown of that system to protect her from a brutal †stalker.†Al-
though it is about the worst nightmares of women-and their parents and friends-the
study dispassionately probes the background of Cartier and the reasons why †the sys-
tem†left him †on the street,†which ultimately led to Kristin’s death as well as Cartier’s.

In the process of recounting the events surrounding this tragedy, the author, perhaps un-
consciously, underscores the importance of a well-functioning, effective bureaucracy,
one containing many of the key elements outlined in the foregoing essay by Max Weber,
in order to protect the lives and safety of all of us.
As you read this selection, try to reflect on the following:
What were the chief elements in the overall bureaucratic system that failed to protect
What caused their breakdown?
How does Weber’s conceptualization of bureaucracy help us to understand bureauc-
racy, its role in society and sources of failure-as well as strengths?
Does this story †square†with Weber’s conception of bureaucracy and the vital role
he believed it fulfilled in modern society?
Do Weber’s generalizations fit or fail to fit the American experience as portrayed by
this case? The basic design of bureaucracy? its formal scope and powers? Its informal
influence on our lives? Sources of problems of modern bureaucracy?
How Kristin Died
The phone was ringing insistently, hurrying me back †lt’s-it’s Kristin. She’s been shot. . . and killed.â€
to my desk. My daughter Helen was on the line, sob- Kristin? My Kristin? Our Kristin? l’d talked to her
bing so hard she could barely catch her breath. the afternoon before. Her last words to me were, †l
Dad,†she shouted. †Come home! Right away!†love you Dad.†Suddenly l had trouble breathing
I was stunned. I had never heard her like this be- myself.
fore. †What’s wrong?†I asked. †What happened?†It was 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 30. In Boston,
where Kristin Lardner was an art student, e
g _ †cordoning off an apartment buildin a couple of
-$37. §2f,“i&a’?;°,.‘i,$3.S§§%’§i§3f.??Z:uiifZiT{’I29†Z“;’;f shefa
3_12 Copyright © 1993 The Washington post Rammed with been killed 90 minutes earlier. She had been shot in
permission. the head and face by an ex-boyfriend who was under