Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 8 years ago

What's bureaucracy and corruption in political science?

If you can have a really descriptive and easy to understand definition.

1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
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    For one example: the primary function of a school is teaching students, thus teachers are the "principal functionaries." But the school also employs secretaries, janitors, counselors, and many other folks that help the school operate from day to day. Anyone who is not a primary functionary (in this case: teachers) are technically bureaucrats.

    Another example: in a shoe factory the factory floor workers are the principle functionaries, but you need human resources to hire, track, and pay all these workers. You also need someone to design the shoes, to market and advertise the shoes, to purchase the raw materials from which to make the shoes, janitors and maintenance folks, and finally, accountants to track incomes and outflows of moneys. These are all secondary and tertiary functionaries, ultimately necessary to the running of the factory, yet few ever touch the product, and, thus, are all "bureaucrats."

    But wait, there's more!

    Okay, that is the bureaucrats, now for the bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the rules and processes. In the shoe factory, the human resources department has to hire folks that will be good workers, but may know nothing about shoe factories, so the factory floor managers will provide guidance (a.k.a. rules) for human resources, to help them hire good workers. Designers can design anything, but this is factory makes running shoes, so there are rules saying what kinds of shoes, and some basic guidelines which make this company's shoes different from those from other companies. And purchasers will have rules, some from the designers regarding what kinds of materials, and some from management or marketing, perhaps regarding "only buy American" or "only buy the cheapest bid" or "try to purchase from ethical sources." The first two criteria for the buyers are pretty straightforward, but what is an "ethical source?" In this instance, someone will have to define ethical, and create rules or processes to ensure purchasers buy "ethically sourced" products.

    But wait, there's more!

    When most people hear the word "bureaucracy, they immediately think "government," yes? Well, in government the politicians are the factory line workers, and laws are what they produce. Thus, anyone employed by government that isn't a politician is therefore a bureaucrat (a lot of people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably. They are *not* synonymous). Bureaucrats are the folks that implement or enforce the laws, or who provide oversight over other bureaucrats. If a law says "inspect eggs to ensure they are safe for consumption," then someone must define what is safe for consumption and how to inspect for that / those criteria (i.e. produce rules and processes of inspection).

    But wait, there's more!

    In a democracy, we have a built-in distrust of government...we want to provide protections against corruption. So, every bureaucrat has rules of conduct, and must spend some amount of time logging what they are doing and how much it costs to do it, and someone else will "oversee" this person, ensuring they report accurately and objectively. So a lot of government cost in a democracy is reporting and oversight in order to ensure consistency, objectivity, and transparency. Perhaps the opposite example might help: in a dictatorship, the dictator will appoint people he knows (family and friends) and they will in turn hire people they know, and so on and so forth. Ultimately, the entire bureaucracy is politically motivated and politically beholden to the dictator. If he says do it, he doesn't care how it is done, only that it happens quickly and efficiently. If it doesn't, heads will roll...probably literally. Back in a democracy, the bureaucracy must be able to operate objectively whether the administration is "conservative" or "liberal" or whatever -- the bureaucrats very specifically can not and are not beholden to the politicians (well...there are some high level bureaucrats that are appointed), and there are rules and processes specifically designed to make it difficult to hire members of one's own family, and even to discourage the hiring of close acquaintances (a.k.a. "friends").

    But wait, there's...well...I could go on...but I shan't. Hope this helps!

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