In this provocative new study, Paul du Gay makes a compelling case for the continuing importance of bureaucracy. Taking inspiration from the work of Max Weber, du Gay launches a staunch defence of `the bureaucratic ethos' and highlights its continuing relevance to the achievement of social order and good government in liberal democratic societies. Through a comprehensive engagement with both historical and contemporary critiques of bureaucracy and a careful examination of the policies of organizational change within the public services today, du Gay develops a major reappraisal of the so-called `traditional' ethic of office. In doing so he highlights the ways in which many of the key features of bureaucratic conduct that ca

Introduction: Bureaucratic Morality

Introduction: Bureaucratic morality

These are not the best of days for bureaucracy. Everywhere its demise is reported, demanded and, more often than not, celebrated. The bureau carries a very hefty ‘charge sheet’, inscribed with multiple offences ranging from the relatively banal – procrastination, obfuscation, circumlocution and other ‘typical products’ of a ‘red tape’ mentality – to the truly heinous – genocide, totalitarianism, despotism. Indeed, to judge by some accounts ‘bureaucracy’, more often than not in conjunction with ‘the state’, appears to be responsible for most of the troubles of our times.

While anti-bureaucratic sentiment may be pervasive it is not necessarily uniform. There are many variants on the theme in current circulation although three in particular stand out. The first of these is relatively ...

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