The purest form--the ideal type--of Weber's legal-rational type of authority is bureaucracy. Legal-rational authority indicates that authority is invested in a set of rules and rule-bound institutions and that the creating and changing the rules are outside of the control of those who administer them; it does not mean, however, that the authority is democratic. Monarchs and even authoritarian leaders who recognize a set of laws external to their powers govern using legal-rational authority. The characteristics of bureaucracy include a fixed salary, posts based on technical skill rather than personal connections, a well-defined hierarchy, and continuous rules which bind the behavior of administrators and citizens or clients alike.
Weber, Economy and Society, Chapter 3, pp. 217-226; 271-301
This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.