bureaucracy

(noun) An organization with formal procedures and standards; typically having a clear division of labor and hierarchy of authority.

Example: The department of motor vehicles or city hall.

Audio Pronunciation: (bu·reauc·ra·cy)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: bureaucracies
  • Term coined by Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712–1759) to describe over-regulation in government that stunts commerce.
  • Commonly, bureaucracy connotes hierarchical structures in a negative light due to the absence of individual freedom of initiative and the overuse of delegation.
  • An aversion to bureaucracies is called bureausis.
  • People who work in a bureaucracy lack autonomy.
  • Bureaucracies exist in the private and public sector.
  • A (noun) bureaucrat works in a (adjective) bureaucratic organization.

Related Quotations:

  • “Bureaucracies generally reward compliance, not defiance. In bureaucratic settings, one does not typically advance by being the defiant, rugged, and fiercely independent individualist of American folklore, but by going along to get along, being a team player, following the rules and procedures, and slowly climbing the bureaucratic ladder one step at a time” (McNamee and Miller 2013:171-172).

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 

 


References

McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd. ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

 

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How to Cite the Definition of Bureaucracy

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “bureaucracy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 14, 2018 (https://sociologydictionary.org/bureaucracy/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

bureaucracy. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/bureaucracy/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “bureaucracy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 14, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/bureaucracy/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“bureaucracy.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/bureaucracy/>.