SOC 233 Sept 30, 2011
General, or “formal” bureaucracy is the one Weber prioritizes – Focus on formal bureaucracy.
Once bureaucracies are established, they are almost indestructible and inescapable.
The reason they are indestructible is because they are the most efficient; it is difficult to replace
them with a different system.
In its effort to be so efficient, we get ourselves “trapped” within the bureaucracy.
Rationalization and the Iron Cage – Roles, regulations and restrictions.
Rationalization: Process whereby an increasing number of social actions and interactions become based
on considerations of efficiency or calculation rather than on motivations derived from custom, tradition
The increasing rationalization of human life, traps individuals in an “iron cage” of rule-based,
Bureaucracies driven through a process of rationalization.
Manifested within modern society.
Rationalization is part of modernization and this is especially prominent in a capitalist market.
Note – Weber believes rationalization defines modern society.
Void of mystery, emotion, tradition, etc. that are important in human contact and interaction
Crush the human spirit.
The process of rationalization would eventually take over institutions; more control, less
Note – Society is very alienating for individuals (for Marx – capitalism; for Weber – bureaucracy).
Class Exercise on Bureaucracy
Q - Using the example of a university, how does it fit Weber’s description of bureaucracy?
1. Formal hierarchical structure – Positions within university (e.g., Preside