Bureaucracy as belief, rationalization as repair: Max Weber in a post-functionalist age

Sociological Theory 5 (1):70-86 (1987)


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

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What is Implicit Culture?Omar Lizardo - 2022 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 52 (3):412-437.

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