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Max Weber on Social "Bureaucratization": Excerpt from a Debate at the Conference of the Association for Social Politics in Vienna (1909)

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our present-day students. The kind of passion for bureaucratization such as we have heard you express here is frankly enough to drive one to despair. It is as if in politics the obsession with orderliness, along whose lines the average German seems to manage best anyway, were given exclusive reins; it is as if we should knowingly and deliberately become humans who need “order” and nothing but order; who become nervous and cowardly when that order teeters for just one moment, and helpless when torn out of their exclusive conformism to that order. We are in the midst of a development anyhow, as a result of which the world will know nothing but such order-seekers. Therefore, the central question is not how to foster and accelerate this trend even further but what means we have at our disposal to counter this machinery in order to protect the rest of humanity from this partitioning of the soul, from this absolute rule of the bureaucratic ethos.

Source: Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik [Collected Essays on Sociology and Social Policy]. Tübingen, 1924. p. 413f.

Original German text reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter and Jürgen Kocka, eds., Deutsche Sozialgeschichte, 1870-1914. Dokumente und Skizzen [German Social History, 1870-1914. Documents and Sketches]. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1982, pp. 82-83.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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