Weber՚s Views Bureaucracy Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Introduction and Concept

  • French word bureau – desk
  • System of administration
  • Hierarchical
  • Goal attainment
  • Power and authority
  • Rationalisation – rational principles


  • “Bureaucracy constitutes the most efficient and rational way in which human activity can be organized and that systematic processes and organized hierarchies are necessary to maintain order, maximize efficiency, and eliminate favoritism.” – Weber
  • “Bureaucracies are large scale formal organisations which are highly differentiated and organised through elaborate policies and procedures in a hierarchy of authority.” – Wallace and Wallace
Introduction and Concept


  • Hierarchy of authority
  • Defined division of labour
  • Merit and eligibility based appointment
  • Higher officials supervise lower officials
  • Political neutrality
  • Formal structure
  • Achievement-focused advancement
  • Efficient organization
  • Fixed jurisdiction, fixed salary, pension
  • Proper channel of official relations

Represents ideal type

To compare existing bureaucracy with such characteristics


  • Handling complicated tasks – eg. census data
  • Division of labour and opportunities
  • Perform repetitive tasks – efficiency
  • Use of resources and man power


  • Rigid rules
  • Red-tapism
  • Despotism – high knowledge = high wishes
  • Altercations among officials
  • Too many employees – waste of salary and resources
  • Lack of human relations
  • Unable to cope with emergency
  • Superiority complex
  • Committees do not dissolve even after goal is achieved

Weber՚s Theory of Bureaucracy

  • Sociological point of view
  • Rationalisation and bureaucratisation go together – ‘inescapable fate’
  • Dysfunctions are inevitable
  • Way ahead: find ways to make it more efficient
  • Depersonalisation
  • “The future would be an iron cage rather than a Garden of Eden.”


  • ‘Rules may not follow all the situation, it may create inefficiency in the organization.’ - R. K. Merton
    • Bureaucracy contains the seeds of its own destruction.


  • Bureaucracy is a system of control with clear defined goals
  • Hierarchal organization
  • Superiors control the subordinates
  • Voluntary submission to higher authority
  • Legitimacy of bureaucratic control
  • Officials have technical knowledge and expertise
  • Defined means to attain the goal
  • Eliminate factors which stand as hurdle
  • It is a rational action in an institutional form


Q. 1. Which of the following statements are correct regarding bureaucracy?

1) Collective name given to the body of employees.

2) Body of officials in authority relationship within an organization.

3) Comprises of appointed employees only.

4) Employees of autonomous corporations are also said to belong to the bureaucracy.

Select the correct answer by using codes given below


a) 1,3 and 4

b) 1,2, 3 and 4

c) 2,3 and 4

d) 1,2 and 3

Ans. (c)

Q. 2. Max Weber believed that ________ organizations are the dominant institutions of industrial society.

(a) Religious

(b) Political

(c) Bureaucratic

(d) Kinship

Ans. (c)

Q. 3. Which of the following statements regarding ‘bureaucracy’ is true according to Weber?

(a) In bureaucracy, organization of office follows the principle of hierarchy

(b) In bureaucracy, the ideal official performs his duties in a spirit of formalistic impersonality

(c) Principle of hierarchy is very irregular

(d) Both (a) and (b) are true

Ans. (d)

#Sociological Concepts

#Social Structure

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