chapter  1
18 Pages

Classical Theories: Marx, Michels, Mosca

Interest in bureaucracy and its relation to democracy predates the advent of sociology as a discipline. The term bureaucracy itself is usually attributed to the physiocrat and political economist Vincent de Gournay, who is said to have coined it in 1745. It was originally used pejoratively for government by officials and for excessive official power. In early nineteenth-century Europe, the bureaucracy was often the target of ridicule for its alleged laziness and inefficiency, for the high-handed manner of its officials and for its tendency to over-regulate social life and abuse power. Much of bureaucracy's work was thought to be self-generated as well as oppressive and debilitating for the rest of society. Honore de Balzac, for instance, referred to bureaucracy as a gigantic power set in motion by dwarfs; Frederic l..e Play, for his part, saw it as a diseased form of administration, whereby officials are accountable to no one and citizens are turned into children. This derogatory view was also held by Marx, the first among the founding fathers of sociology to make a significant contribution to the analysis of bureaucracy.