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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article offers a critique of A Reader in Bureaucracy, by Robert K. Merton et al. It examines four themes in the papers and debates in the book, many of which were central to the study of bureaucracy in the 1950s and 1960s: the debate with Max Weber over his historical-comparative ambitions of the ‘ideal type’ of bureaucracy, formality and informality, the relationship between social stratification and bureaucracy, and the problematization of authority. The discussion outlines Weber’s perspectives on bureaucracy, particularly the ideal type of bureaucracy, his preconditions of bureaucracy, and the bureaucratizing tendencies in modern society. The chapter then turns to the problematic link between social class and status and bureaucracy, together with the role of formal rules and hierarchy in explaining bureaucratic behavior. It concludes by assessing the influence of sociology in general, and of the Reader in particular, on contemporary public policy studies.

Keywords: Reader in Bureaucracy, public policy, public administration, Robert K. Merton, Max Weber, bureaucracy, social stratification, authority, social class, sociology

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