Definition of Bureaucracy
Examples of Bureaucracy
- city hall
- department of motor vehicles
Etymology of Bureaucracy
- Coined by Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712–1759) to describe over-regulation in government that stunts commerce.
- American English – /byu-rAHk-ruh-see/
- British English – /byuuh-rOk-ruh-see/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /bjʊˈrɑkrəsi/
- British English – /bjᵿˈrɒkrəsi/
- Plural: bureaucracies
- Commonly, the term “bureaucracy” connotes hierarchical structures in a negative light due to the absence of individual freedom of initiative and the overuse of delegation or regulations.
- Weber identified two types of authority that had dominated previous social organization: traditional authority and charismatic authority. Weber then identified a new type, rational-legal authority, which lead to his theorization of how bureaucracies operate. Weber posited that society as a whole was moving toward the cold, rationalism found in buearaucracies.
- 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 (adverb) bureaucratically (verb) bureaucratizes a (adjective) bureaucratic organization.
- “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 2013:171–72).
- “Bureaucracy represented a new group of rulers and a new method of government in contrast to monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. The concept of bureaucracy began to refer to power over the population. By the nineteenth century, the theme of bureaucracy as a threat to democracy developed into ideas that democracy was the fundamental corrective to the routine, inflexibility, and power that came to characterize bureaucracy” (Colignon 2007:179).
- “Some bureaucracies perpetuate inequalities of race, class, and gender because this form of organizational structure creates a specific type of work or learning environment. This structure was typically created for middle- and upper-middle-class white men, who for many years were the predominant organizational participants” (Kendall 2011:194).
- “The development of the modern form of organization of corporate groups in all fields is nothing less than identical with the development and continued spread of bureaucratic administration. This is true of church and state, of armies, political parties, economic enterprises, organizations to promote all kinds of causes, private associations, clubs, and many others. Its development is, to take the most striking case, the most crucial phenomenon of the modern Western state” (Weber 1947:337).
- Word origin of “bureaucracy” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Bauman, Zygmunt. 1989. Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity.
- Blau, Peter M. and W. Richard Scott. 1962. Formal Organizations. San Francisco: Chandler.
- Blau, Peter M. 1963. The Dynamics of Bureaucracy. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Casey, C. 2004. “Bureaucracy Re-enchanted? Spirit, Experts and Authority in Organizations.” Organization 11(1):59–79. doi:10.1177/1350508404039658.
- DeHart-Davis, L. 2009. “Can Bureaucracy Benefit Organizational Women?” Administration and Society 41(3):340–63. doi:10.1177/0095399709334643.
- Du Gay, Paul. 2000. In Praise of Bureaucracy: Weber, Organization, Ethics. London: SAGE.
- Fischer, Frank, and Carmen Sirianni, eds. 1994. Critical Studies in Organization and Bureaucracy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Foucault, Michel.  2012. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage.
- Goodsell, Charles T. 2004. The Case for Bureaucracy. 4th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
- Greenberg, Alan L. 2010. Confessions of a Government Man: How to Succeed in Any Bureaucracy. Indianapolis: Dog Ear.
- Lipsky, Michael. 2010. Street-level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
- Peters, B. Guy. 2010. The Politics of Bureaucracy: An Introduction to Comparative Public Administration. 6th ed. London: Routledge.
- Pinchot, Gifford, and Elizabeth Pinchot. 1994. The End of Bureaucracy and the Rise of the Intelligent Organization. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
- Von Mises, Ludwig. 1944. Bureaucracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Weber, Max. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization.
- Weber, Max. [1921–22] 1979. Economy and Society. Chicago: University of California Press.
- clear division of labor
- explicit rules
- hierarchy of authority
- Weber, Max
Colignon, Richard A. 1969. “The Sociology of Organization.” Pp. 179–88 in 21st Century Sociology: A Reference Handbook, edited by C. D. Bryant, and D. L. Peck. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller, Jr. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Weber, Max.  1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons. New York: Oxford University Press.
Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.
Agger, Ben. 2004. The Virtual Self: A Contemporary Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.
Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.
Giddens, Anthony, and Philip W. Sutton. 2014. Essential Concepts in Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.
Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.
Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.
Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
O’Leary, Zina. 2007. The Social Science Jargon Buster: The Key Terms You Need to Know. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.
Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Thorpe, Christopher, Chris Yuill, Mitchell Hobbs, Sarah Tomley, and Marcus Weeks. 2015. The Sociology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London: Dorling Kindersley.
Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Tomlinson, Alan. 2010. A Dictionary of Sports Studies. New York: Oxford University Press.
Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “bureaucracy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 11, 2023 (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 December 11, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/bureaucracy/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“bureaucracy.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/bureaucracy/>.