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Humanities Libertexts

14: The Bureaucracy

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    • 14.1: What Is Bureaucracy?
      Sociologist Max Weber suggested that bureaucracy is an efficient way to govern large, complex societies. The ideal form of bureaucracy has four characteristics: (1) A rational division of labor into specialized offices with fixed jurisdictions, (2) Employees chosen for their skills, knowledge, or experience, not for their politics, (3) A chain of command wherein officials report to higher-ups, and (4) Impersonal reliance on written rules to limit arbitrary variation from one case to the next
    • 14.2: Policymaking, Power, and Accountability in the Bureaucracy
      The federal bureaucracy is a creature of Congress and the president. But agencies independently make policy and exert power: legislating by rulemaking; executing by implementation; and adjudicating by hearing complaints, prosecuting cases, and judging disputes.
    • 14.3: The Federal Bureaucracy in the Information Age
      We have seen the many ways the federal bureaucracy makes crucial contributions to government and public policies. Yet its depiction in the media is mixed. On the one hand, emphasizing waste, incompetence, malfeasance, and abuse, the media tend to be critical, even dismissive. On the other hand, many agencies are portrayed as competent and effective. This can be explained with an analysis of agency-media interactions.
    • 14.S: The Bureaucracy (Summary)

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