Political Mobilization: A Sociological Analysis of Methods and Concepts

By J. P. Nettl | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE

Mobilization Structures in Different
Stages of Development: Bureaucracy

SUMMARY

We take up the conclusion of the previous chapter: that bureaucracy is the structural expression of consensus and serves the function of substituting for the missing quantitative factor in the sum total of mobilized commitments in developed societies. Bureaucracy is first defined in a Weberian sense-as a phenomenon or modernity but not necessarily as the product of, or synonymous with, organizational and even social rationality. Its function as a substitute for mobilization is then investigated more specifically in different Western societies, and it is noted that bureaucracy too has a mobilizing potential-albeit a fairly weak and above all conservative one. Such a conception conflicts with the frequent depiction of Soviet bureaucracy as mobilizing par excellence; the problems, both conceptual and empirical, posed by this contradiction are examined at some length. This in turn leads to the historical analysis of bureaucracy and its relationship with broader theories of society held by different schools of thought. In order to avoid breaking the thread of the main argument, this discussion is confined to an appendix at the end of the chapter.

Since bureaucracy has been defined as a phenomenon of development or modernity the central administrative structures, both civil and military, in developing countries today pose special problems of analysis, which are looked into—both as internal problems of collectivities and as an external factor in the operation of social systems. A hypothesis of future developments is put forward, and finally an attempt is made to explain civil-military relations in certain countries, especially Latin America, within the framework of the theory of bureaucracy put forward here.

If the phenomenon of bureaucracy is to be allocated a major social function, it will first be necessary to define it adequately for present

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