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A bureaucracy is a group of non-elected officials within a government or other institution that implements the rules, laws, ideas, and functions of their institution.The term 'bureaucracy' finds its origin from the French word 'bureau' which means desk and a government which is run from table is called a bureaucratic government. The word implies a particular system of administration. Historically, it has associated with the rules of government and government officials. 

In this form of the government there is concentration of power in the hands of departments. Sociologists regard bureaucracy as a form of administration that is found in formal organisations pursuing a wide variety of goals.

As a technical term in sociology, "bureaucracy" is associated with Max Weber. He gave it a precise definition and suggested that it was the best administrative form for the rational pursuit of organisational goals.

Definitions of Bureaucracy: 

  1. Max Weber: "Bureaucracy is a type of hierarchical organisation which is designed rationally to co-ordinate the work of many individuals in pursuit of large scale administrative tasks".
  2. Talcott Parsons: "The relatively large scale organisations with specialized functions... loosely tend to be called bureaucracies".
  3. Wallace and Wallace: "Bureaucracies are large-scale formal organisations which are highly differentiated and organised through elaborate policies and procedures in a hierarchy of authority.

Characteristics of Bureaucracy: 

1. Fixed Official Jurisdiction:

It has its own fixed official jurisdiction. It consists of various statuses and each has a fixed official duty to do. In bureaucracy, there is clear cut written rules for each and every status.

2. Hierarchy of Authority:

In every bureaucracy there is hierarchy of positions or chain of command. Here the higher officials supervise the lower officials. The command or orders of superiors have to be followed by subordinates.

3. Division of Labour:

In bureaucracy the entire work is governed by the system of division of labour. Therefore, everyone is clear with their responsibilities as they are given specific tasks.

4. Fixed Salary, Allowance and Pension:

Officials are paid salary monthly and allowances and pensions are given according to the rule.

5. Selection of Personnel:

Employees are selected according to a definite rules specified by the organization. These rules are based on qualifications, trainning, age, seniority, technique, competence, etc.

6. Neutrality:

Members are expected to be politically neutral in the business field or area.

7. Impersonal Relations:

As a matter of principle, the members should be completely separated from ownership of the means of production. Here, the members are expected to keep clear distinction between personal and official issues. 

8. Guidance from Past Procedures:

In bureaucracy there will always be guidance from the past procedures. It will help to effective production.

9. Offices and Written Documents:

The management of inaccuracy or the organisation is based on written documents and files. Since there is nothing private in the office, every decisions made or every transaction made are recorded. It will be helpful in making better decisions in future.

10. Supervisions by Higher Officials:

As there is hierarchy of authority, higher officials are suppose to supervise the lower officials.

11. Appointment of Officials on Full Time and Long Term Service Basis:

Appointments of officials in a bueracracy is normally made by the higher officials and not by election. Normally the position of the bureaucrat is held for life as specified by the contract or order. 
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