Concepts of Social Stratification: European and American by Andreas Hess (auth.)

By Andreas Hess (auth.)

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Thus, bureaucracy becomes even more reliable and calculable – an obvious advantage not just in terms of the objective of bureaucracy, but also for the clients and customers who have to deal with, or who depend on the bureaucracy. Weber sums up the advantages when he writes: ‘ “Equality before the law” and the demand for legal guarantees against arbitrariness demand a formal and rational “objectivity” of administration, as opposed to the personally free discretion flowing from the “grace” of the old patrimonial domination’ (1946: 220).

If there was a way to minimise risks, it was first of all the democratic procedure – parliamentary control and constitutional binds – that would keep bureaucracy in check; secondly, there had to be a careful selection of people working for the bureaucracy. In regards to the selection process of personnel, Weber would rather opt for those he calls the classically and humanistically educated ‘cultivated man’, than for the ‘specialist type of man’ who did not have a humanistic education and who would only decide on the basis of the facts on his file.

The answer that Weber provides to this question is twofold; he argues that modern society requires the performance of tasks of such differing quantitative and qualitative types that only a modern bureaucracy is able to cope with them (1946: 209–14). Within the first category of qualitative tasks fall new administrative tasks that developed with the new, geographically larger entities in politics such as federal forms of nation-states (as in the US) or empires (as in the British example), or within modern structures of large scale party organisations.

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