A formal, rationally organized social structure involves
clearly defined patterns of activity in which, ideally, every series of
actions is functionally related to the purposes of the organization.
In such an organization there is integrated a series of offices, of hierarchized
statuses, in which inhere a number of obligations and privileges closely
defined by limited and specific rules. Each of these offices contains
an area of imputed competence and responsibility. Authority, the
power of control which derives from an acknowledged status inheres in the
office and not in the particular person who performs the official role.
Official action ordinarily occurs within the framework of preexisting rules
of the organization. The system of prescribed relations between the
various offices involves a considerable degree of formality and clearly
defined social distance between the occupants of these positions.
Formality is manifested by means of a more or less complicated social ritual
which symbolizes and supports the pecking order of the various offices.
Such formality, which is integrated with the distribution of authority
within the system, serves to minimize friction by largely restricting (official)
contact to modes which are previously defined by the rules of the organization.
Ready calculability of others’ behavior and a stable set of mutual expectations
is thus built up. Moreover, formality facilitates the interaction
of the occupants of offices despite their (possibly hostile) private attitudes
toward one another. In this way, the subordinate is protected from
the arbitrary action of his superior, since the actions of both are constrained
by a mutually recognized set of rules. Specific procedural devices
foster objectivity and restrain the “quick passage of impulse into action.”
(1968, p. 249).
As Weber indicates, bureaucracy involves a clear-cut division of integrated
activities which are regarded as duties inherent in the office. A
system of differentiated controls and sanctions is stated in the regulations.
The assignment of roles occurs on the basis of technical qualifications
which are ascertained through formalized, impersonal procedures (e.g.,
examinations). Within the structure of hierarchically arranged authority,
the activities of “trained and salaried experts” are governed by genera,
abstract, and clearly defined rules which precludes the necessity for the
issuance of specific instructions for each specific case. The generality
of the rules requires the constant use of categorizations, whereby individual
problems are treated accordingly. The pure type of bureaucratic official
is appointed, either by a superior or through the exercise of impersonal
competition; he is not elected (1968, p. 250).