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group’s theoretical and empirical contributions

to history are contained in the journal Past &

Present, which they founded. STEVEN LOYAL

burden of dependency

– see age.

bureaucracy

While bureaucracy as a practice stretches back

into antiquity (especially the Confucian bureaucracy

of the Han dynasty), and while Max Weber

in Economy and Society (1922 [trans. 1978]) explored

its traditional origins (see tradition), the modern

rational-legal conception of bureaucracy emerged

in France in the eighteenth century. Indeed, the

word is French in origin: it compounds the French

word for an office – a bureau – with the Greek word

for rule. In the nineteenth century, Germany provided

the clearest examples of its success. Weber

realized that the modern German state’s success

had been possible only because of the development

of a disciplined bureaucracy and standing

army – inventions that became the envy of

Europe. In the military, nothing exhibited bureaucratic

discipline better than goose-stepping, which

the Prussians invented in the seventeenth

century. The body language of goose-stepping

transmitted a clear set of messages. For the generals,

it demonstrated the absolute obedience

of their recruits to orders, no matter how painful

or ludicrous these might be. For civilians, the

message was that men drilled as a collective

machine would ruthlessly crush insubordination

and eliminate individualism. Not surprisingly,

nineteenth-century German industrial organizations

incorporated some of the forms of rule

whose success was everywhere around them.

While the workers did not goose-step into the

factory, they were drilled in obedience to rules.

Bureaucratic organization depended, above all

else, on the application of what Weber termed

“rational” means for the achievement of specific

ends. Techniques would be most rational where

they were designed purely from the point of view

of fitness for purpose. Weber’s conception of rationality

was not purely instrumental: relating a

set of means as mechanisms to achieve a given

end was only one version of rationality, albeit

one which Weber believed would become dominant

in the twentieth century.

Weber defined bureaucracy in terms of fifteen

major characteristics: (1) power belongs to an

office and not the officeholder; (2) authority is

specified by the rules of the organization; (3) organizational

action is impersonal, involving the

execution of official policies; (4) disciplinary

systems of knowledge frame organizational

action; (5) rules are formally codified; (6) precedent

and abstract rule serve as standards for organizational

action; (7) there is a tendency

towards specialization; (8) a sharp boundary between

bureaucratic and particularistic action defines

the limits of legitimacy; (9) the functional

separation of tasks is accompanied by a formal

authority structure; (10) powers are precisely delegated

in a hierarchy; (11) the delegation of powers

is expressed in terms of duties, rights, obligations,

and responsibilities, specified in contracts; (12)

qualities required for organizational positions

are increasingly measured in terms of formal credentials;

(13) there is a career structure with promotion

by either seniority or merit; (14) different

positions in the hierarchy are differentially paid

and otherwise stratified; and, finally, (15) communication,

coordination, and control are centralized

in the organization.

Weber identified authority, based on rationallegal

precepts, as the heart of bureaucratic organizations.

Members of an organization will obey its

rules as general principles that can be applied to

particular cases, and that apply to those exercising

authority as much as to others. People will

obey not the person but the officeholder. Members

of the organization should “bracket” the personal

characteristics of the officeholder and respond

purely to the demands of office. Weber’s view

of bureaucracy in From Max Weber was that

“Precision, speed and unambiguity, knowledge

of the files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict

burden of dependency bureaucracy

47

subordination, reduction of friction, and of material



and personal cost . . . are raised to the optimum

point in the strictly bureaucratic administration”

(1948).

Weber saw modern bureaucratic organizations



as resting on a number of “rational” foundations.

These include the existence of a “formally free”

labor force; the appropriation and concentration

of the physical means of production as disposable

private property; the representation of share

rights in organizations and property ownership;

and the rationalization of various institutional

areas such as the market, technology, and the

law. The outcome of processes of rationalization

will be the production of a new type of person: the

specialist or technical expert. Such experts will

master reality by means of increasingly precise

and abstract concepts. Statistics, for example,

began in the nineteenth century as a form of

expert codified knowledge of everyday life and

death, which could inform public policy. The statistician

became a paradigm of the new kind of

expert, dealing with everyday things but in a way

that was far removed from everyday understandings.

Weber sometimes referred to the results of

this process as disenchantment, meaning the

process whereby all forms of magical, mystical,

traditional explanation are stripped from the

world, open and amenable to the calculations of

technical reason.

Bureaucracy is an organizational formconsisting

of differentiated knowledge and many different

forms of expertise, with their rules and disciplines

arranged not only hierarchically in regard to each

other, but also in parallel. If you moved through

one track, in theory, you need not know anything

about how things were done in the other tracks.

Whether the bureaucracy was a public- or privatesector

organization would be largely immaterial.

Private ownership might enable you to control the

revenue stream but day-to-day control would, however,

be maintained through the intermediation of

experts. And expertise is always fragmented. This

enables the bureaucracy to be captured by expert

administrators, however democratic its mandate

might be, as Roberto Michels argued in Political

Parties in his famous “iron law of oligarchy” (1911

[trans. 1962]). STEWART CLEGG

bureaucratization

– see bureaucracy.

Burgess, Ernest W. (1886–1966)

A member of the Chicago School of sociology,

urban sociologist, and sponsor of community

action programs, Burgess was born in Tilbury,

Ontario, Canada. He received his PhD from the

University of Chicago in 1913, where the Department

of Sociology under Albion Small had pioneered

the idea of social research in pursuit of

reform. He returned to the department in 1916,

where he spent the rest of his academic career,

becoming its chair in 1946. He was elected president

of the American Sociological Society (the

forerunner of the American Sociological

Association) in 1934.

Cautious and meticulous, he came under the

influence of the charismatic Robert Park, with

whom he wrote An Introduction to the Science of

Society (1921).

His early research focused on the urban ecology

of Chicago. Together with Park, he developed the

concentric zone theory of spatial organization in

The City (1925). They pioneered research into race

and ethnicity, supporting a large number of doctoral

students in this area. Burgess’s research

interests included the spatial distribution of

social problems and led to his involvement with

a number of community programs, especially

those concerned with the family and young

people. His papers have been collected in Donald

Bogue (ed.), Basic Writings of E. W. Burgess (1974).

JOHN HOLMWOOD

bureaucracy Burgess, Ernest W. (1886–1966)

48

C



Canguilhem, Georges (1904–1995)

He is known mainly as the intellectual e´minence

grise lurking behind some of the most influential

post-World War II French social theorists, notably

Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. Although he

was an influential teacher and thinker, he published

few major texts and, to date, these are not

readily accessible in English translation. Born in

southwest France, he was taught in Paris by the

philosopher E´mile Cartier (1868–1951), otherwise

known as Alain, before entering theE´cole Normale

Supe´rieure in the same year, 1924, as Raymond

Aron, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80), and Paul Nizan

(1905–40). He wrote a postgraduate thesis on

Auguste Comte under the supervision of Ce´lestin

Bougle´ (1870–1940) and taught philosophy at

Toulouse from 1936 to 1940 while commencing

medical studies. He was active in the Resistance

in the Auvergne during the Vichy regime and

resumed teaching at Strasbourg in 1944. He submitted

his doctoral dissertation in medicine in

1943. This was published in 1950, and republished

many times after 1966 as On the Normal and the

Pathological – famously, in 1978, with an introduction

by Foucault (whose dissertation on madness

and unreason had been examined by Canguilhem

in 1960). He succeeded Gaston Bachelard (1884–

1962) as Professor of Philosophy at the Sorbonne

in 1955 and retired in 1971. He specialized in the

history and philosophy of science, with particular

reference to the life sciences, publishing Ideology

and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences (1977

[trans. 1988]). He made important contributions to

epistemology and his discussions of health and

disease relate as pertinently to the societal as to

the individual condition. DEREK ROBBINS

capitalism

The study of capitalism represents a classical topic

in sociology. Both Karl Marx and Max Weber were,

for example, deeply interested in capitalism and

made it their main focus of research. During

much of the twentieth century, on the other

hand, sociologists have tended to take capitalism

for granted, often neglecting to discuss it in their

analyses of society. Exceptions exist, and there

are also some signs that capitalism is currently

enjoying a comeback as a central topic in sociology.

We are, for example, witnessing an increasing

number of studies on the theme of “varieties

of capitalism.”

This revival of the study of capitalism will be

reviewed later on in this entry. First, however,

the question “What is capitalism?” needs to be

addressed. There will also be a presentation of

what the classics have to say about capitalism

(Marx, Weber, and Joseph Alois Schumpeter).

Their works are still unsurpassed, and they also

constitute the foundation for much of the current

discussion.

In order for human beings and societies to survive,

the economy has to be organized in a special

manner, of which capitalism is only one. There

has to be production; what is produced has to be

distributed; and what has been distributed has to

be consumed. There exist different ways of organizing

these three processes of production, distribution,

and consumption. According to a wellknown

argument, the key distinction when it

comes to economic organization is between

“housekeeping” (Haushalten) and “profit-making”

(Erwerben). As Weber argued in his General Economic

History (1922 [trans. 1978]), you either produce

for consumption or for profit. Marx in Capital

(1867 [trans. 1996]) referred to the same distinction

when he spoke of “use value” versus “exchange

value,” and so did Aristotle when he

contrasted oekonomia (household management) to

chrematistika (money making).

Karl Polanyi in Trade and Market in the Early

Empires (1957) further elaborated the distinction

between housekeeping and profit-making when

he introduced his well-known typology of the

three different ways in which an economy can

acquire unity and stability: reciprocity, redistribution,

and exchange. Each of these three terms,

Polanyi explains, expresses a form of social

action, but also answers to an institution. For

exchange, the equivalent institution is the

market; for redistribution, it may be the state

49

or a political ruler; and for reciprocity, the tribe,



the kin group, or the family.

While exchange and the market answer to the

category of profit-making, it should be noted that

Polanyi’s real innovation was to introduce two

categories for housekeeping: reciprocity, and redistribution.

Based on this idea by Polanyi, we see

that the process of the economy can actually be

organized in primarily three different ways. First

of all, we have the kind of economies where redistribution

is central; and where what is produced is

distributed via, for example, the state, before it is

consumed. Second, there are economies where

reciprocity constitutes the social mechanism

through which production is distributed for

consumption. Here we may think of the way that

the economy of a modern family is organized.

Last – and this is where we come to capitalism –

there is the situation which is characterized by the

fact that what is being produced is distributed via

the market. Here, however, all does not go to

consumption; and what drives the process just as

much as consumption, is the search for profit (see

Fig. 1).

Capitalism, in brief, can be defined as an economy

which is organized in such a way that what is

being produced for consumption is distributed via

exchange in the market and where some portion

of what is being produced also goes to profit. The

more of the economy that gets drawn into this

Figure 1 Ways of organizing economic process, including capitalism

capitalism capitalism

50

type of organization, the more the economic



system can be characterized as capitalistic. There

also has to be a constant reinvestment of the

profit into production, for the capitalist process

to become permanent.

From this model, we also understand why it is

valuable not only to study middle-range phenomena

in sociology, as mainstream sociology tends

to do today, but also to look at the macro level. In

a capitalist economy, the three processes of production,

distribution, and consumption are all

closely linked to one another. What is being produced

has to be sold, which means that production

and consumption are deeply influenced by

the market. Consumption and production, to

phrase it differently, cannot be studied in isolation

from the profit motive and its organization.

We may also take a concept such as production

and further subdivide it into, say, factors of production

(land, labor, capital, technology, organization).

If we do this, we soon see how these are all

oriented to the market and the necessity to produce

profit. Labor, for example, needs to be socialized

and educated in order to survive on the labor

market. Technology cannot simply be developed

according to the criteria of what is the most efficient,

but has to be produced in such a way that it

can be sold on the market, and so on.

While such important institutions in modern

society as law (see law and society), politics, and

culture are not included in the model of capitalism

that has just been presented, it can be suggested

that each of them will either speed up, slow

down, or block the process of accumulation in the

capitalist economy. One may, for example, argue

that certain types of legislation (say bankruptcy

law, corporate law, and contractual law) are important

for an advanced capitalist system to exist.

The same is true for certain types of political institutions,

such as the rational state. That a country’s

general culture can be important for its development

was something that Charles-Louis Montesquieu

and Alexis de Tocqueville had already

commented on.

Polanyi’s categories of reciprocity, redistribution,

and exchange also allow us to capture the

phenomenon that all real economies consist of a

mixture of different sectors. A modern capitalist

economy, for example, usually has a considerable

state sector that operates via redistribution (pensions,

subsidies, welfare, and so on). Households

are often organized according to the principle of

reciprocity (even if we also know that this reciprocity

is closely influenced by stratification (see

social stratification) according to gender and age).

We may therefore speak of three main economic

sectors in modern capitalist society: the market

economy, the state economy, and the household economy.

Some countries also have a developed non-profit

economy (foundations, private universities, voluntary

associations, and so on). This sector operates

according to a mixture of Polanyi’s three types of

distribution.

While sociologists hold that the notion of a

single inventor is something of a myth and that

all discoveries tend to be “multiple discoveries,” it

is nonetheless possible to single out Marx as the

one who invented the theory of capitalism. In

Capital and related writings, Marx was also

the first to theorize capitalism in analytical terms

as a distinct system of its own. This system is

socioeconomic as well as dynamic in nature.

What characterizes capitalism as a distinct

socioeconomic system, according to Marx, is that

money is used as capital and not simply as money.

In the latter case, we have the situation where

an individual sells a commodity (C) in order to

buy some other commodity with the money (M).

This process Marx writes as C-M-C. The capitalist,

in contrast, uses money to produce commodities

that are sold for profit; and here we have instead

M-C-M1 (where M1 equals M plus some fraction

of M).


According to Marx, it is crucial to understand

how money can become something more than

itself (M1), and instead of ascribing this process

to the successful selling of some commodity on

the market (as economists tend to do), Marx suggests

that there exists one very special commodity

that has the capacity to produce more value than it

costs. This is human labor, and the extra value

that it creates Marx terms surplus value. Marx’s

theory of surplus value consequently stands at the

very center of his theory of capitalism as well as

his theory of exploitation. To Marx, in other

words, what happens in production (where surplus

value is created) is more important than

what happens in the market (where surplus value

is just given a monetary form). The market, Marx

specifies, is indeed central to capitalism – but its

key role in capitalist society is primarily one of

mystification since it is precisely the fact that commodities

are bought and sold on the market, at

what seems to be their “right” price, that makes it so

hard for those who are exploited in capitalism to

understand that labor is always underpaid in

capitalism.

While Marx presented an analytical model of

the capitalist process and, on the basis of this

model, theorized how the economy would develop

capitalism capitalism

51

in the future, he also pioneered a deeply historical



and empirical study of capitalism. Few readers of

Capital will fail to have noticed this, and one may

cite Marx’s powerful descriptions of life in the

factories or the process of enclosures that set off

capitalism in England.

Capitalism, as Marx sees it, is not restricted to

some special area or sphere of society, as economists

see it today, but constitutes its very foundation.

The economy, as a result, influences not only

what goes on in the workplace but also a host of

other phenomena, such as law, politics, literature,

philosophy, the household, and the relations between

the sexes. There is, in brief, no separate

economic sector, according to Marx.

It may finally be mentioned that Marx also criticizes

past and present economists for their view of

capitalism. They often do not mention the existence

of classes (see social class), and, if they do,

they do not see exploitation. Most importantly,

however, according to Marx, economists simply

take capitalism for granted and think that categories

such as “capital,” “labor,” “profit,” and so

on are universal and given, once and for all. They

fail, in brief, to understand that capitalism is a

deeply historical phenomenon. And as a result,

they produce ideology rather than a scientific

theory about capitalism.

There exist many critiques of Marx’s theory of

capitalism and little needs to be added to these. It

is, for example, clear that capitalism does not

operate according to “Natural Laws” which “work

with iron necessity towards inevitable results,” to

cite the preface to Capital. There is much controversy

over what is alive and dead in Marx’s analysis,

for example, in Jon Elster’s An Introduction to

Karl Marx (1986). It deserves nonetheless to be

emphasized, when one discusses Marx’s view of

capitalism, that Marx has relatively little to say

about corporations and other key capitalist institutions,

such as the market, the stock exchange,

and so on. For Marx, capitalism was grounded in

production, and since production typically takes

place inside the modern factory, this is also where

it primarily should be studied.

Weber was deeply influenced by Marx and his

analysis of capitalism. Like Marx, Weber, for

example, saw capitalism as the defining feature

of contemporary society and also as an ominous




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