Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Representative Bureaucracy and Multilevel Governance in the Eu: A Research Agenda

Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Representative Bureaucracy and Multilevel Governance in the Eu: A Research Agenda

Article excerpt


Representative bureaucracy is fundamental to democratic principles such as legitimacy and acting on behalf of others (see Pitkin 1967; Mosher 1982). The European Commission (2010a) has recognized the importance of improving the representation of demographic groups in the political and administrative institutions of the EU, particularly in terms of economic growth, sustainable development, human rights and good governance. The focus of the paper is on the representation of women in public bureaucracies. The paper develops a research agenda of representative bureaucracy within the context of multilevel governance. To this regard, the paper draws upon theories of bureaucracy, representative bureaucracy, feminism and multi-level governance. The paper includes a review of extant research and secondary data, with an emphasis on the EU, to develop hypotheses for further investigation and to add to the debate on this emerging area of scholarship.

Keywords: representation, bureaucracy, multi-level governance, Weber, feminism, European Commission

1, Introduction

In September 2010, the European Commission (EC) introduced its fourth road map as a five-year plan to improve gender equality and, inter alia, the representation of women in decision making roles. The five-year plan is integral to the EU 2020 strategy to achieve broader social inclusion and good governance goals. The EC has acknowledged that its previous road maps have been limited in improving the representation of women in senior political and administrative positions (EC 2010a; 2010b). Indeed the EC (2008) has recognized that the inequalities which exist in political and administrative spheres resonate within the broader EU community, with disparities between men and women in socio-economic activities. Implicit in the EC's road map and efforts to improve the representation of women in public life and key decision making roles, is a link between the passive and active representation of women. The concepts of passive and active representation are integral to the theory of representative bureaucracy. Representative bureaucracy scholars would argue that the legitimacy of state and public bureaucracies is dependent on the extent to which citizens are represented, passively and actively, within a bureaucracy. As the paper will argue representative bureaucracy theory draws upon Max Weber's "ideal-type" bureaucracy and the rational legitimate approach of the state. Thus, the first part of the paper provides perspectives of Weberian, feminist and representative bureaucracy theories. The second part of the paper questions the extent of representation in EU institutions. And the third part of the paper explores multi-level governance (MLG) from the perspectives of feminism and representative bureaucracy. The paper will conclude with a research agenda and hypotheses to hopefully contribute to scholarship in this under-researched area.

2. Theories of Bureaucracy

2.1 Theory of Bureaucracy: Max Weber1

Weber's theory of bureaucracy is within the context of power, legitimacy and rationality. Weber's idea of bureaucracy is explained through the context of power ("Macht") and domination/authority ("Herrschaft') (Weber 1968; Mommsen 1974). According to Weber (1968), power is when one actor in a social relationship is in a position to carry out his/her will despite resistance. Domination or authority is when a command with specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons (Weber 1968). The concepts underpin the idea of legitimacy, which according to Weber (1968) is the motivation which induces persons to obey given commands regardless of whether these commands are addressed to them personally or in the language of rules, laws and regulations. Thus, the extent to which people are likely to obey a command depends on whether they believe the system of commands to be legitimate. Weber believed that legitimacy was imperative to the stability of political systems for, if the governed did not believe in the legitimacy of a political system it would be bound to be unstable and eventually collapse (Mommsen 1974). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.