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Bureucracy and Legal-Rational

BUREAUCRACY AND LEGAL-RATIONAL AUTHORITY IN WEBER'S WORK
According to Weber, bureaucracy is a product of the legal-rational form of authority which is itself a product of the process of rationalisation which defines modern societies. Max Weber was a sociologist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who was concerned with understanding social actions and the effects they had on modern, Western civilisation. He identified a relatively new social process of rational action which is characteristic of modern society in all it's institutions. One of the social consequences of rationalisation lies within the sphere of authority, and Weber identified a new form of authority called legal-rational authority. This type of authority called for new ways of organising systems, that is, new organisational bodies which would be compatible with rationalist principles. Weber called these modern organisational bodies bureaucracies.
Weber saw rationalism as the hallmark of modern society (Cuff, Sharrock & Francis 1998). He made a distinction between people's behaviours and people's actions, with actions being those which carry attached meanings, and behaviours those which don't. Four types of meaningful action were theorised by Weber- traditional, emotional/affectual, value-rational and instrumentally rational (Haralambos, Holborn, Smith & Davis 1997). Thefirst three types of action were based on traditional customs, emotional ties or personal or social values. Instrumental-rational action, argued Weber, was unique in that the actors took into account the means, ends and the long-term consequences of their actions (Haralambos et al 1997). According to Weber, modern civilisation, particularly in the West, was driven by a widespread tendency towards instrumentally rational action, a process of rationalisation (Haralmbos et al 1997). This was apparent in the growing emphasis on science, medicine, architechture, t…

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