Bureaucracy According to Weber and Essay

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Sources: 13
  • Subject: Government
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #14057182

Excerpt from Essay :

Such resources will include proper funding for facilities, personnel, technological and communicational resources and other such elements required for an administrative capacity congruent with the needs of the public which it is designed to serve.

It is thus that the bulk of Meier's book concerns the actual structure of a government based on the principle of bureaucracy. Here, he explores in detail the relationship between a variant of agencies and the way in which these help to maintain the sensible interaction of the government's three demarcated branches. Though he refers to it as the fourth branch in the title of his book, he nonetheless appears to illustrate in this chapter that bureaucracy is instead the versatile membrane transmitting communication and action amidst the multifarious responsibilities of the federal administration. In this regard, the Meier text comes ultimately to confirm the major claims of Foucault, which suggest a reciprocity between our selective dependency upon the functionality of bureaucratic agencies and the solidified power of the state. Here, "Foucalut's studies of the hospital, prison, and school, in addition to accounts of the factory system by Marx and recent social historians, ground Weberian formal analysis in the history of various social techniques for the administration of corporeal, attitudinal and behavioral discipline, i.e., the disciplinary society." (O'Neill, 42)

In this regard, we can see that the rational-legal argument posed by Weber would actually form the basis for the power dynamics predicted by Foucault through the modernization of governments. A prime representation of this theorem is Meier's discussion on the presidential and congressional political bureaus, which are essentially actionable vehicles through which these separate branches can affect policy on a single issue. This dynamic is further supported by Prendergast (2007), who reports that the bureaucracy must inherently favor the state over the individual in order to conduct the business of the state. Thus, Prendergast states that "bureaucrats should be biased. Second, sometimes this bias takes the form of advocating for their clients more than would their principal, while in other cases, they are more hostile to their interests. For a range of bureaucracies, those who are biased against clients lead to more efficient outcomes." (Prendergast, p. 180)

An important feature of bureaucracy which is considered here is its capacity to assign civilian employees to conduct responsibilities that, in detail, specialization and even tediousness, may fall outside the purview of time available to busy public officials. In this regard, presidential administrations and senatorial committees alike may appeal to such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Motor Vehicles to execute mutual legislative initiatives. This indicates that political and bureaucratic figures serve different functions within the same power structure, according to Alesina & Tabellini (2008). The argue that "politicians are preferable if there is uncertainty about social preferences and flexibility is valuable, or if policy complementarities and compensation of losers is important. Bureaucrats are preferable if time inconsistency and short-termism is an issue, or if vested interests have large stakes in the policy outcome." (Alesina & Tabellini, p. 426)

Here, the authors discusses the role of the civilian workforce in the elected government's many bureaucracies, evaluating such agencies as essentially the means through which the prodigious responsibilities of our elected officials are delegated to the citizens themselves. When discussing the civilian corps, Meier makes the case that this is an ultimate demonstration of democracy in action, with said civilians even bearing the capacity to shape policy directly. This is possible, Meier indicates, when an agency is seen as favorable to the citizenry by the population itself. Such a reputation is earned for efficiency, expediency, accessibility and a general fostering of the impression that the agency genuinely is designed to bring policy and public into direct contact with one another. This participatory level of involvement with the government is a prime determinant of the so-called disciplinary society, with members of the society itself acting as limbs of a greater system of authority by consenting to its continuity. Ouchi (1980) explains the phenomenon, reporting that "an organization will exist so long as it can offer its members inducements which exceed the contributions is asks of them." (Ouchi, 129)

This denotes what Clegg (1994) would describe in a discussion on Foucault's ideology as an almost unconscious surrender of freedom in accordance with the social contract underlying modernity. Clegg reports that "the freedom of modernity, experiences in the loss of entrapment within received meaning, is not something that is merely one-dimensions, something wholly positive. It is also something simultaneously experienced negatively -- as a loss of freedom to organizational and rational constraint." (p. 155)


Through the present discussion on the various elements which combine to formulate a bureaucratic government, we can remove the negative connotation from the notion of bureaucracy. However, this is only supplanted by a neutral understanding of bureaucracy as a necessary and inevitable set of functional appendages designed to carry out the complicated business of the people. Therefore, these appendages implicate both the government and the people in an agreement over power dynamics in which the latter have essentially vested their trust, their labor support, their public funding and their dependency in the former.

Works Cited:

Alesina, a. & Tabellini, G. (2008). Bureaucrats or Politicians? Journal of Public Economics, 92, 3-4, 426-447.

Clegg, S. (1994). Weber and Foucault: Social Theory for the Study of Organizations. Sage.

Downs, a. (1964). Inside Bureaucracy. Real Estate Research Corporation.

Felluga, D. (2002). Modules on Foucault: On Panoptic and Carceral Society. Introductory Guide to Critical Theory.f

Lipsky, M. (2010). Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Service. Russell Sage Foundation.

Meier, K.J. (1993). Politics and the Bureaucracy: Policymaking in the Fourth Branch of Government. Pacific Grove, Calif.: Brooks/Cole.

Niskanen, W.A. (2007). Bureaucracy & Representative Government. Transaction Publishers.

Olsen, J.P. (2005). Maybe it Is Time to Rediscover Bureaucracy. Journal of Public Administration, 16(1), 1-24.

O'Neill, J. (1986). The Disciplinary Society: From Weber to Foucault. The British Journal of Sociology, 37(1), 42-60.

Ouchi, W.G. (1980). Markets, Bureaucracies, and Clans. Administrative Science Quarterly, 25.

Prendergast, C. (2007). The Motivation…

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