What Are Some of the Traits of the Ideal Model of Bureacracy Noted by Max Weber?

The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) believed the ideal type of bureaucratic authority structure would be bound by formalized rules, allow only those specifically competent to serve and prohibit members from ownership of the means of administration or production. Weber also advocated civic education and an increased participation by society in civic affairs. Weber's analysis of bureaucracy placed an emphasis on state institutions based on rational-legal authority on those founded on traditional or charismatic leadership.

Weber suggested that a proper political education would instill the virtues of both the ethic of responsibility and the ethic of conviction. His concept of the ethic of responsibility was based on his belief that there should be an ethical integrity connecting a chosen action to its consequences. The reasoning behind Weber's ethic of conviction, on the other hand, is based on an individual's ability to autonomously choose not only the means, but the end also.

Weber saw bureaucracies based on rational-legal authority as the form of government developing in modern nation-states and coupled to the rise of both nationalism and capitalism. He believed this was what differentiated Western Europe from the rest of the world and that this trend first developed within western civilization. Weber was, however, not uncritical of the trend in society towards rationalism, and felt that a societal disenchantment would set in as the world became less mystical and more explained. This process could result in society losing its more sublime values, impair the development of individualism and cause art to become less creative.