Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bureaucracy; a form of social control

Weber gives us great insight and a different perspective to what we had already seen with Marx, capitalism as a form of social control. Weber however mentions that bureaucracy is an evil necessity in order to organize a chaotic world. To Weber, as societies grow and become democratic people need to create order and laws to be able to control such number of people. A bureaucracy (in its ideal type) would have a perfect division of labor, hierarchy rules and communication, different well assigned positions (of power) and be without emotional connection. with this ideal type in mind, do you believe that a family that has grown so big (such as that of the mother who gave birth to 8 children after having 6 at home) will need to form a bureaucratic organization in order to prevent the whole family to faulter? And if so, how do you think this could be achieved, who will have more power, who will create the rules, will they be able to work in perfect harmony, or is it too much to ask from this ideal type?


  1. I think a family that large would need to incorporate some form of bureaucratic org. in order to function and follow the norms of everyday society. It seems almost difficult in terms of the amount of infant children involved and the fact that the birth mother is single and still living with her own mother. In my opinion this would only create chaos because of the lack of power that the single mother would have over her children and the grandmothers unwillingness to take care of the daughters responsibilites full-time. This ideal type would cease to exist in this frame of mind, in my opinion anyways.

  2. Great thoughts, thanks! as for your idea, I agree with you in that some sort of Bureaucratic government or system needs to be created, if not then it just won't work

  3. I think it is definitly necessary that a bureaucratic organization be formed in these types of families but I think that is only possible given the dynamics of the family. I am a TLC fanatic and they have numerous weekly shows and also one-time specials that feature very large families so my examples are going to come from the shows I've seen. My first example is of how this type of system would be impossible.
    In Jon & Kate Plus 8, this couple has one set of twins (age 8) and a set of sextuplets (age 4). In this situation it is more difficult to have a bureaucratic organization because there are so many of the same age. There is a slight hierarchy between the older twins and the younger sextuplets but not enough to make a vast difference. Perhaps when they are older there will be a moe possible division of duties and roles.
    The second example is of the show "17 kids and counting". There are 17 children living in one household but there is a division between their ages. During the show they discuss how one childs responsibility is doing the laundry, one helps cooking...etc. The older children are also looked up to by the younger children. They all work and complete different functions so that the household runs smoothly and operates like a well-oiled machine. Without them being organized and working together there is no possible way their mother could do this on her own. Alot of the families they highlight are also organized and function in this same system.

  4. In this situation a bureaucracy is necessary to maintain the order and the administration of the family. This family situation is seen as chaotic because it is not only a single parent family, but also a very large family. Just like Weber mentions a bureaucracy is necessary to organize a chaotic world, or in this case this institution of social control. They might be able to work in perfect harmony if they create a decent bureaucracy, giving the most power to one person and someone else can make the rules and so on.