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Preliminary Exam Summary; Section: Organizations

By Eileen Bevis
CITATION:
Weber, Max. Economy and Society. Edited Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. New York:
Bedminister Press, 1968, vol. 1, Conceptual Exposition, pgs. 956-1005, Bureaucracy.
ABSTRACT:
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].
SUMMARY:
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 authoritys business
[bureaucracy would then shrink]; instead, lower authoritys 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).
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The others: traditionally prescribed social action is typically represented by patriarchalism;


charismatic structure of domination rests upon individual authority which is based neither upon
rational rules nor upon tradition (954)

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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 dutyofficial doesnt
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--vis their supervisors.
Appointed officials function more accurately than elected officials because
theyre been selected for functional ability. However, use of unqualified
elected or appointed-by-elected officials usually backfires on party [except in
Chicago??]. Fully democratic elections of administrative chiefs and their
subordinate officials usually endangers supervision of officials and precise
functioning of the bureaucracy (961).
c. The measure of independence legally guaranteed by tenure for life is not
always a source of increased social status (e.g. socially-inept, independent
judges vs. socially-ept and/because socially dependent because removable
military officers in Germany) (962).
d. Bureaucratic officials earn a salary, not a wage, and this salary is based on
rank/status and maybe length of service, not on hours worked. They are also
guaranteed a pension (963).
e. The official is set for a career up the hierarchy of the bureaucracy (up to
higher officers, more important status, and higher salary) (963).
III. Monetary and Financial Presuppositions of Bureaucracy (963-969)
A. The development of the money economy is a presupposition of a modern
bureaucracy [difficult to pay officials with in kind payments after a certain point],
though historically there were large, well-developed bureaucracies that used in kind
payments (Egypts New Kingdom, later Roman Principate, Roman Catholic Church,
Chin post-Shi Hwangti until present) (963-64).
B. Various asides on how to turn in kind payments into cash via ones official position,
why direct purchase of offices occurs (need not just cash but capital). One definition
of word that Weber uses frequently: prebends and prebendal organization refer to all
cases of life-long assignment to officials of rent payments deriving from material
goods or land/rent, in compensation fro the fulfillment of real or fictitious duties of
office (966-67).

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C. This bestowal of material endowments (aside from salaries), or further of political


rights, to officials weakens the bureaucratic mechanism, especially hierarchical
authority (967).
D. Status incentives and an assured salary, career track are superior to arbitrary,
physical coercion (e.g. enslavement) for the success and maintenance of a rigorous
mechanization of the bureaucratic apparatus (967-68).
E. Bureaucracy is definitely tied to the availability of continuous revenues to
maintain it. Such revenues come either from private profits, land rents, or taxation
(968). Full taxation system presupposes money economy, so while not necessary,
taxation system, its resulting administrative requirements, and prerequisite money
economy are certainly helpful and conducive to bureaucratization (968).
IV. The Quantitative Development of Administrative Tasks (969-971)
A. The first basis of bureaucratization is the quantitative and extensive increase of
administrative tasks [the second? qualitativejust wait!] (969).
B. In politics, the big state and the mass party are the classic fields of such development
(969). In particular, the large modern state is technically dependent upon a
bureaucratic basisthe larger and more powerful the state, the greater such
dependence (971).
V. Qualitative Changes of Administrative Tasks (971-973)
A. The second basis of bureaucratization, the qualitative and intensive increase of
administrative tasks, is also the more significant (971).
Intensity: the assumption by the bureaucracy of as many tasks as possible for
continuous management and discharge in its own establishment (972).
B. The creation of standing armies, power politics, developing public finances, and more
recently, the complexity of civilization have all historically contributed to the
development of bureaucracy (972).
C. Economic: Increasing possession of consumer goods and of a sophisticated technique
of fashioning external life affects the standard of living and increases subjective sense
of indispensability of provision for wants that were previously unknown (972). (Also,
economic ultimately determine cultural influences toward bureaucracy.)
D. Political: increasing demands for order and protection (police) exerts influence
toward bureaucratization (972).
E. Technical: modern means of communication, spur direct growth of state
administration because can only be managed publicly and spur indirect growth
because contribute to development of inter-local goods traffic and to tempo of
administrative reactions (973, 974).
VI. The Technical Superiority of Bureaucratic Organization over Administration by Notables
(973-980)
A. The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has always
been its purely technical superiority over any other form of organization (that
would be collegiate, honorific, and avocational forms) (973) [contrast with Meyer and
Rowan]. Bureaucracy has optimized precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of the
files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of
material and personal costs (973).

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B. Bureaucracy also offers unparalleled objectivity (discharge according to calculable


rules and without regard for person) in the carrying out of administrative functions
(975); this dehumanization increases as bureaucracy develops (975).
C. With complexity, specialization, and objectivity come calls for a detached expert
(975).
D. Aside on Kadi Justice and Common Law compared to Roman Law. Kadi justice
consists of informal judgments rendered in terms of concrete ethical or other
practical valuations; empirical justice, or common law, consists of formal judgments
rendered by drawing on analogies and depending on and interpreting concrete
precedents (976). Only Roman law consists of formal judgment rendered by
subsumption under rational concepts or rules of decision (976).
a. Differences in the development of substantive law in Germany and England
rest not on economic but on political factorsstructures of domination (976).
b. Although technical factors of trial procedure contributed to development of
rational law, it took bureaucratization of the polity to really rationalize Roman
law into a closed system of concepts to be handled scientifically (978).
E. Just because expertness is valued doesnt mean general and abstract norms rule
(978). Everybody is attacking the idea of such a law without gaps where there is no
room for the creative discretion of the official, though they arent advocating return to
Kadi justice but rather rational law where objective standard of reasons of state
stands behind every administrative act (979).
Such raison dtat is fused inseparably with instincts of bureaucracy for maintaining
own power (979).
Note also that rational law, in combination with democratic currents, doesnt always
turn out substantively for the democratic good and minimize domination (979-80).
VII. The Concentration of the Means of Administration (980-983)
The bureaucratic structure goes hand in hand with the concentration of
resources, a.k.a., the material means of management in the hands of the master (980,
982).
A. Historically, the bureaucratization of the army has everywhere occurred as army
service shifted from the propertied to the property-less (happens as culture and
economy develop and propertied men get too busy and unfit for war). With
bureaucracy, armies were able to become larger, professional, and standingeither
national or private (mercenary) (981).
B. Similarly, in other spheres, including state and university, a bureaucracy puts its entire
administrative expense on the budget and provides the lower authorities with the
current means of expenditure, the use of which upper management regulates and
controls (982-83).
VIII. The Levelling of Social Differences (983-987)
Although bureaucracy has indubitable technical superiority, its growth hasnt been
smooth. Helping and hindering influences to bureaucratization include:
A. The leveling of social and economic differences contribute to bureaucratization. For
instance as with modern mass democracy (because of characteristic democratic
principle of abstract regularity of the exercise of authority, which is a result of the
demand for equality before the law and horror of privilege and doing business
case by case (983). Necessitates paid staff, this mass democratic state, btw (984).

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B. But democracy also inevitably comes into conflict with bureaucratic tendencies that
were produced by democracys fights against noblesdemocracy strives to shorten
office terms and to have more candidate choices than only those with special expert
qualifications, whereas bureaucracy likes closed groups of status officials that arent
universally accessible and the authority of officialdom against public opinion (985).
Democracy as such is opposed to the rule of bureaucracy (991).
C. By passive democratization Weber means a leveling of the governed; for examples
of where it happened see 985-86 [only useable if youre already familiar with those
examples b/c no detail given].
D. Motives behind such passive democratization are economic (e.g. economicallydetermined origin of new classes) and/or political (e.g. foreign affairs) (986).
E. Where older structural forms were already highly technically developed, bureaucracy
was slower to develop because technically superior impetus was weaker (987).
IX. The Objective and Subjective Bases of Bureaucratic Perpetuity (987-989)
Once fully established, bureaucracy is one of the hardest social structures to destroy
(987).
Bureaucracy is the means of transforming social action into rationally organized
action and thus is a power instrument of the first order for one who controls the
bureaucratic apparatus (987)Still asking why bureaucracy has so much power?
Because under otherwise equal conditions, rationally organized and directed
action is superior to every kind of collective behavior and also social action
opposing it. Where administration has been completely bureaucratized, the
resulting system of domination is practically indestructible (987).
The individual bureaucrat is chained to his activity in his entire economic and
ideological existence. In the great majority of cases he is only a small cog in a
ceaselessly moving mechanism which ascribes to him an essentially fixed route of
march (988). Unless he is at the very top, he cannot start or stop anything.
The ruled cannot dispense with the bureaucratic apparatus once it exists, for stopping
it results in chaos (and the masses depend especially on the bureaucratic organizations
of private capitalism for their material fate) (988). They cannot replace it easily
because it rests on expert training, a functional specialization of work, and an
attitude set on habitual virtuosity in the mastery of single yet methodically integrated
functions (988).
Because bureaucracies are indispensable and impersonal, they are very easy to steer
once one has gained control over themeven if the enemy takes over, it is in
everybodys best interest to keep the thing runningmaking revolution, in the
sense of the forceful creation of entirely new formations of authority, more and more
impossible (989).
X. The Indeterminate Economic Consequences of Bureaucratization (989-990)
The consequences of bureaucracy depend upon the direction which the powers using
the apparatus give to it, though very often, crypto-plutocratic distribution of power
results (989). The economic effects of bureaucracy are varied, their direction
depends on presence of other factors. The social effects, however, are leveling (990).
XI. The Power Position of the Bureaucracy
A. Being functionally indispensable does not necessarily translate into lots of power for
bureaucracy. However, the power position of a fully developed bureaucracy is

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always great, under normal conditions overtowering because bureaucracys


political masters face it as dilettantes to an expert (991).
B. Bureaucracies are naturally secretive about their knowledge and intentions, whether
out of functional or pure power motives (992-93).
C. The absolute monarch is powerless in the face of the superior knowledge of the
bureaucratic expert, including the face of the prime minister, who represents the
concentration of the power of the central bureaucracy in a single pair of hands in a
constitutional government and who sees everything and controls what monarch sees
(993). Only private economic interest groups in business know more than
bureaucracies, because these groups have an added incentive for exact knowledge
economic survival (994).
XII. Excursus on Collegiate Bodies and Interest Groups
Rulers seeking to fend off domination of experts will sometimes turn to formation of
collegiate bodies that deliberate and resolve continuously (rather than occasionally)
and that are clearly under rulers authority [i.e., ruler doesnt have to listen to them],
unlike bureaucratic experts. The ruler gains needed expert knowledge and yet plays
the experts off each other so they dont gain power to prompt him into ill-advised
decisions (995).
Collegiate bodies, as a type, emerge on the basis of rational specialization of
functions and the rule of expert knowledge. On the other hand, they must be
distinguished from (1) advisory bodies selected from among private and interested
circles, which are frequently found in the modern state and whose nucleus is not
formed of officials or of former officials and (2) boards of directors as in joint stock
corporations (996).
Collegiate administration disappears when, from the point of view of the rulers
interests, a strictly unified administrative leadership appears to be more important
than thoroughness in the preparation of administrative decisions (997).
Spread from central to varied lower authorities (997).
Only with the bureaucratization of the state and of law in general can one see a
definite possibility of a sharp conceptual separation of an objective legal order from
the subjective rights of the individual which is guarantees, as well as that of the
further distinction between public law, which regulates the relationships of the
public agencies among each other and with the subjects, and private law which
regulates the relationships of the governed individuals among themselves (998).
[Note: presupposes distinction between state/office authority and personal authority
(998).]
XIII. Bureaucracy and Education
A. Bureaucracy promotes a rationalist way of life, furthering the development of
rational matter-of-factness and the personality type of the professional expert
(998).
B. One of the important effects of A. is on the nature of education and personal culture
a. the system of rational examination for expertise is brought to the fore
with modern bureaucracy (999)
b. such examination systems conflict with democratic fears of a privileged
caste (here, of experts) (999)

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c. this development is greatly helped by the social prestige of educational


degrees/patents acquired through such specialized exams, prestige which can
be turned into economic advantage (1000)
d. demands for the introduction of regulated curricula leading to special exams
have much more to do with limiting supply of qualified candidates than with
belief in education (1000). Such acts lead to formation and perpetuation of
a privileged stratum in business offices and public service (1000-01).
C. The cultivated man was the old ideal; in modern bureaucracies, the specialist
rules (1001).
XIV. Conclusion
The bureaucratic structure is everywhere a late product of historical development.
The further back we trace our steps, the more typical is the absence of bureaucracy
and of officialdom in general. Since bureaucracy has a rational character, with
rules, means-ends calculus, and matter-of-factness predominating, its rise and
expansion has everywhere had revolutionary results, in a special sense still to be
discussed, as had the advance of rationalism in general (1002).
RELEVANCE: