Weber`s insight consisted in distinguishing different types of legitimate authority that characterize different types of societies, especially as they move from simple societies to more complex ones. He called these three types of traditional authority, rational and legal authority, and charismatic authority. We now turn to them. The rational-legal model contrasts with other forms of government, such as those based on tradition or personal charisma. In a rational and legal system, the legitimacy of authority derives from the law itself, not from the personality or character of those who apply it. Let me give you an example of the legal system. Indeed, in communist societies – and probably to some extent even in China today, much less than thirty or forty years ago – now, when the court serves justice, the court is not blind to who the people accused of committing a crime are. The communist legal system called itself a class law; That the purpose of the legal system is not to be blind – is it? – who committed the crime. The purpose of the legal system—that was the kind of claim to legitimacy under communism—is to defend the interests of the working class.
And that is precisely why it was a legal system based on material rationality. Right? “Rational” is derived from the Latin word rationalis, which means the capacity for reason. Thus, the financial system is based on knowledge and rational functioning, is meticulously regulated by legal texts and exercises immense authority over ordinary citizens. That is the thrust of today`s presentation. Again, I start by defining the ideal type, the purest type of legal-rational authority, and then try to dive into this unusual but highly influential Weberian argument – that bureaucracy is actually the purest type of legal-rational authority. Next, I will examine different types of restrictions on the exercise of bureaucratic authority. One of them is collegiality. The other is the functional division of labor – isn`t it? – the separation of the different branches of government, which is a limitation of bureaucracy, and representation, democracy, is a limitation of government. So you can see that he`s a tension, right? – between democracy, bureaucracy, legal-rational authority and capitalism. They don`t come together as easily as we Americans tend to think. And then some ideas about his vision of democracies. Charismatic authority may reside in a person who has entered a leadership position because of traditional or rational-legal authority.
Over the centuries, several kings and queens of England and other European nations were also charismatic individuals (while some were far from charismatic). A few American presidents—Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, and, for all his faults, even Clinton—were also charismatic, and much of their popularity stemmed from various personal qualities that attracted the public and sometimes even the press. Ronald Reagan, for example, was often called “the Teflon president” because he was so beloved by much of the public that accusations of incompetence or misconduct did not stick to him (Lanoue, 1988). The army is therefore a classic example of rational and legal authority. It is centrally organized, highly knowledge-based and hierarchically structured. Rulers do not derive their authority from tradition (e.g. monarchies or social castes), but from their position within a rational and legal framework. Traditional authority is granted to individuals regardless of their qualifications.
They do not need to possess any special abilities to receive and exercise their authority, as their claim over them is based solely on their lineage or so-called divine designation. An individual to whom traditional authority is granted may be intelligent or stupid, fair or arbitrary, and exciting or boring, but also receives authority because of custom and tradition. Since not all individuals who have obtained traditional authority are particularly qualified to use it, societies governed by traditional authority sometimes find that individuals who have obtained it are not always up to the task. Rational and legal authority helps ensure an orderly transfer of power in times of crisis. When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was immediately sworn in as the next president. When Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 over his involvement in the Watergate scandal, Vice President Gerald Ford (who had himself become Vice President after Spiro Agnew resigned for financial corruption) became President. Because the U.S.
Constitution provided for the transfer of power when the presidency was vacant, and because U.S. leaders and members of the public accept the authority of the Constitution in these and so many other matters, the transfer of power in 1963 and 1974 proceeded smoothly and in an orderly manner. To give a very trivial example, once you have received your program and course requirements, and the type of assignments you need to deliver during the course to get recognition in that course, then a professor comes in. But we have to be approved by the courses and programs committee, and then, in a way, we are bound by those rules. On the way, I couldn`t tell you today, “Well, I`ve changed my mind and there will be an invisible final exam where you have to take a final exam – right? – and you won`t know what questions I`m going to ask, and I can ask any question for the whole course. » Right? If I had to change these rules now, I`m sure you would have appealed against me, against my decision. Right? I am bound by rules. That means I don`t have the administrative resources. Right? I`m getting by – isn`t it? – what is in the program. Well, there is a little wiggle room. Right? From time to time, I can give you an extension, for example, when you come to see me. So it`s — there`s a little bit of flexibility in the system. But fundamentally, the course should be taught as it is in the curriculum, and the requirements should be as they are in the curriculum.
That`s what it means – isn`t it? – that you don`t own – right? – possesses the means of administration, unlike the traditional authority, where a feudal lord owns – and appropriates part of the administrative means of the monarch. And a high British or French aristocracy could make rules; If you do not apply the rules, you can also create rules. The German sociologist Max Weber provided the social sciences with their most enduring empirical approach to legitimation. Weber linked legitimacy to the willingness to follow a system of government (“orders of legitimacy”) or to obey orders (“imperative control”). Administrative staff may, for example, obey orders based on customs, emotional ties or material inducements. However, he argued that obedience or obedience generally also requires a belief in the legitimacy of the system of government or command. Any “system of authority,” he argued, “seeks to establish and cultivate belief in its `legitimacy`” (Weber 1947, 325). Conformity or obedience based on custom or expediency is unlikely to be stable, according to Weber. Mention should be made here of the similarity between Weber`s concept of legitimacy and Marx`s concept of ideology (Barker 1990, p. 59). Charismatic authority derives from an individual`s extraordinary personal qualities and that individual`s influence on followers because of those qualities. These charismatic individuals may exercise authority over an entire society or simply over a specific group within a larger society.
You can exercise authority for better or for worse, as shown by this short list of charismatic leaders: Joan of Arc, Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Buddha. Each of these individuals had extraordinary personal qualities that led their followers to admire them and follow their orders or calls to action. And then I think, what`s coming — it`s a very intriguing idea, and he said, “But the big problem with socialism is that there`s going to be a big conflict here between the formal rationality and the substantive rationality of what the bureaucracy does.” And you know now – don`t you? – or at least you have an idea of what he wants to achieve between formal and substantive rationality. Right? Formal rationality is that you simply implement the rules of the game. The substantial rationality is that you are actually concerned with well-being, the substantial goals of the action. And he said, “Well, if you have a public economy, a centrally planned economy, then the central planners make substantial decisions about the economy.” They decide, for example, where government or taxpayer money should go – in which sectors of the economy to invest. Right? In a capitalist economy, governments generally cannot do this. Right? They set the rules of the game. Well, better yet, they manage interest rates and they may be able to manage the exchange rate, but they can`t allocate resources across the economy. When they do, people will say, “We are on the road to socialism.” Right? As for rationality in terms of content. Weber defined the legal system as one in which rules are promulgated and followed as legitimate because they are consistent with other laws, how they can be promulgated, and how they must be followed. Moreover, they are enforced by a government that monopolizes their implementation and the legitimate use of physical force.
Weber pointed out that charismatic authority in its pure form (i.e. when authority resides in someone solely because of the person`s charisma, and not because the person also has traditional or rational-legal authority) is less stable than traditional authority or rational-legal authority. The reason is simple: as soon as charismatic leaders die, their authority also dies. While the example of a charismatic leader may inspire people long after the leader has died, it is difficult for another leader to control people`s devotion as intensely.