This book provides a distinctive new introduction to the study of comparative politics at undergraduate level. Rich in case study material and global in coverage, Comparative Politics sets out the basic theoretical and methodological foundations for studying different political systems as well as the key structures and actors of which they are comprised. 

The Bureaucracy

The bureaucracy

Chapter Outline

This chapter sets out the basis for a comparative account of bureaucratic processes and the analysis of bureaucratic power, firstly by considering some important definitional issues surrounding the concept of bureaucracy and then by examining how the various branches of the ‘new institutionalism’ have examined the role of bureaucratic organisations. Particular questions we consider are:

  • Why are bureaucracies able to wield the power that they do?
  • In whose interests is this power wielded?
  • How does the extent and nature of bureaucratic power vary between states?


Understanding the nature of bureaucratic power is particularly important given that in recent years many states have adopted a range of reforms, which have been designed to control the perceived excesses of public bureaucracies. To judge from most media coverage, ...

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