A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy, usually within an institution of the government. Bureaucrat jobs are often "desk jobs" (the French for desk being bureau).

The term "bureaucrat" today has largely accepted negative connotations, so those who are the members of a governmental bureaucracy usually prefer terms such as civil servant or public servant to describe their jobs. The negative connotation is fueled by the perception that bureaucrats lack creativity and autonomy.


Max Weber defined a bureaucratic official as the following:

  • He is personally free and appointed to his position on the basis of conduct
  • He exercises the authority delegated to him in accordance with impersonal rules, and his loyalty is enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of his official duties
  • His appointment and job placement are dependent upon his technical qualifications
  • His administrative work is a full-time occupation
  • His work is rewarded by a regular salary and prospects of advancement in a lifetime career
  • He must exercise his judgment and his skills, but his duty is to place these at the service of a higher authority. Ultimately he is responsible only for the impartial execution of assigned tasks and must sacrifice his personal judgment if it runs counter to his official duties.
  • Bureaucratic control is the use of rules, regulations, and formal authority to guide performance. It includes such things as budgets, statistical reports, and performance appraisals to regulate behavior and results.

As an academic, Woodrow Wilson professed in the United States "bureaucracy can exist only where the whole service of the state is removed from the common political life of the people, its chiefs as well as its rank and file. Its motives, its objects, its policy, its standards, must be bureaucratic."

Bureaucrats of the EU are frequently termed eurocrats in the English language in Europe - a portmanteau of European Union (or Europe) and bureaucrat. Such portmanteaus have multiplied in recent years, including educrat or milicrat.

In imperial China, bureaucrats largely composed the social elite. Known in Europe as Mandarins, after the Portuguese word for 'councillor', this variety of bureaucrats passed a set of complicated examinations and were posted throughout the empire.

As depicted in the arts

See also

External links


Search another word or see bureaucraton Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature