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The Conflicting Nature of the Relationship of Bureaucracy and Democracy

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The need for bureaucracy at the societal level cannot be understated. Bureaucracy is virtually indispensable in the quest to realize social order and proper governance in any democratic culture. Democracy in government can only be realized if transparency and oversight exist. Unfortunately, this means that bureaucracy will be at an unreasonable level. Paul du Gay’ s confrontational read “ In Praise of Bureaucracy” emphasizes this in terms of the traditional ethical approaches to governance. In his opinion, there are bureaucratic procedures that were instituted centuries ago but are still relevant in the present societal context (Gay, 2000, 8).

Such bureaucratic procedures previously promoted an accountable democratic government that is able to provide a society that has equitable opportunities for its inhabitants. Impersonalism and red tape are two defects that have a considerable effect on bureaucracy. To serve commercial interests, public bureaucracy is placed under government control. This furthers Max Weber’ s opinion on bureaucracy and undermines the morality of the concept. According to Gay, in democratic life, bureaucracy occupies a uniquely necessary place. Regrettably, dictatorship seems to be the only form of governance that can ensure bureaucracy, as long as it discourages negative traits such as capitalism.   There is a tension that happens between capitalism and democracy.

Similar to the conflict between bureaucracy and democracy, capitalism cannot subsist in a society that has democratic ambitions. Bureaucratic procedures further this conflict that exists in the quest by managers to have control of their workforce. Bureaucratic control was developed in the quest to prevent any measures to counter capitalism, which is against democracy. This means that bureaucracy in an actual sense does not support a democratic state.

Through bureaucracy, more control is established over the masses. Richard Edwards in his book “ Contested Terrain” supports the aspect of structural control as a concern for the existing engagement between bureaucracy and democracy (Edwards, 1979).    

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preview essay on The Conflicting Nature of the Relationship of Bureaucracy and Democracy
  • Pages: 6 (1500 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Politics
  • Level: Undergraduate
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