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According to Weber authority is related to power. indeed legitimate power is authority and authority is nothing but legitimate power. Therefore, the various forms of legitimate power will be the various forms of authority. According to Weber, authority determines the social action and the social organization. Weber recognizes three kinds of authority. These are:


  1. a) Traditional Authority

Traditional authority rests on the belief in he sacredness of the social order and its prerogatives based on tradition The purest type of this authority is represented by patriarchal authority. Within it. the various strata of individuals are bound by communal relationships The man in command is ruling over obedicnt-rcgarded as the lord who exercises this control and power over obedient ‘subjects’ These people obey the lord personally sincc his dignity is hallowed by tradition. His commands are also bound by tradition. But, then the lord’s inconsiderate violation of tradition endangers the legitimacy of his personal rule, which rests merely upon the sacredness of tradition The lord’s administrative staff consists of personally dependent mcn, who are mostly members of the household, domestic workers personal fricnds or associates and lackeys bound by personal allegiance.

Weber mentions that tradition, privilege, feudal or patrimonial bonds of allegiance, status, honour and ‘goodwill’ regulate the web of inter-relations within the structure of traditional authority. And, patriarchal ruler of the family father and chief etc., represents but the purest type of traditionalist rule. The co-existence of the strictly tradition-bound and the free sphere of conduct is a common feature of all traditionalistic forms of authority.

Weber writes that in comparison to traditional patriarchalism, all estate rules, based upon more or less stable appropriation of administrative power, stands closer to legal authority as the guarantees surrounding the prerogatives of the privileged assume the form of special “rights”, which is a result of the “division of power” among the estates. This rationale is absent in patriarchal structures.


(b) Charismatic Authority:

Charismatic authority rests on the effectual and personal devotion of the follower to the lord and his gifts of grace, known as charisma It comprises especially magical abilities, revelations of heroism, power of the mind, and of speech. The eternally new, the non-routing, the unheard of and the motional rapture from it are sources of personal devotion. The purest types are the rule of the prophet, the warrior hero, and the great demagogue. The person in command is typically the “leader” who is obeyed by the “disciple”. Obedience is given exclusively to the leader as a person. for the sake of his extraordinary qualities, and not because of enacted position or traditional dignity. Therefore, “obedience is forthcoming only so long as people ascribe these qualities to him that is, so long as his charisma is proven by evidence.” The administrative staff of charismatic authority is selected according to charisma and personal devotion, selection docs not consider special qualification as in the case of the civil servant nor domestic or other forms of personnel dependency.

Throughout the ages, charismatic authority exercised by certain saints, prophets, warriors, hero, philosophers, orators, scientists, politicians and rulers have held sway over men. The demagogues have also exercised sufficient influence on the masses by virtue of their charismatic powers. It is scan that charismatic authority rests on the faith’ in the charismatic person and the belief in his extraordinary powers and qualities. Yet, as Weber points out “charismatic authority does not derive from this recognition by the subjects rather the reverse is true, which means that the charismatically legitimized leader considers faith in the acknowledgement of his charisma obligatory and punishes their violation. Thus, “Charismatic authority is even one of the  great revolutionary forces in history, but in pure form it is thoroughly Authoritarian and lordly in nature.”

Weber uses the term ‘charisma’ in a completely value-neutral sense. He explains that the charismatic person has to prove that he has been sent “by the grace of god by performing miracles and being successful in scoring the good living for his followers or subjects, as was done by Moses of the biblical fame, the great law-giver of the Jews.

Charismatic rule represents a specifically extra-ordinary and purely personal relationship. Weber writes that, however, in the case of continued existence, when the personal representative of charisma is eliminated, the charisma structure has the tendency to reutilize. This is known as the “reutilization of charisma”. The process through which it happens are as follows:

(1) Traditionalization of the orders. The authority of precedents takes the place of the charismatic leader’s or his staff’s charismatic creativity in law and administration. These precedents cither protect the successor or are attributed to them.

(2)The charismatic staff of disciples or followers changes into a legal or estate-like staff by taking over internal prerogatives or those appropriated by privilege

(3) The meaning of charisma itself may undergo a change. Decisive in this is the way in which the problem of successor ship is solved which is a burning question for ideological and necked omen material interests Often an active search is made for a successor, if strong incrusts are vested in the community of the charismatic structure of authority The process of the search for the so slow Dalai Lamas in Tibet is an example of it.

(c) Rational Legal Authority

Rational legal authority rests on eye enactment sanctions its pure type is best represented by bureaucracy. The basic idea is that laws can be enacted and changed at pleasure by formal procedure. Te governing body which enacts such laws or rules is either cllected or appointed and constitute what are known as rational organizations Obedience in such organizations is not owed to anybody personally but to enacted rule and regulations These enactments specify to whom and to what rule people owe obedience. The person in authority, too obey a role when aiding an order. These rules ads regulations represent abstract norms The person in command is held to be superior legally His right to govern is legitimized by enactment enforced by the State.

Weber points out that “The typical official is a trained specialist whose terms of employments are contractual. He is given a fixed salary scaled by “rank of office” not by amount of work done by him. He has the right to a pension according to fixed rules of advancement.  His admnistration represents vocational work by virtue of “impersonal duties of office” Ideally the administrator is supposed to cxercise his authority “without regard to person” by following rational rules with strict formality. He is expected to enforce organizational discipline in the burcaucratic system through Iegal rules Weber stresses that this type of legal’ rule “comprises not only the modern structure of static and city government but likewise the power relation in private capitalist enterprise, in public corporations and voluntary associations of all sorts, provided that an extensive and hirarchicaly organi/ed stall of functionaries exists,” Further. bureaucracy represents the purest type of Icgal authority However, no stnicture of authority is exclusively bureauratic, that is, it is only managed by contractually hired and appointed officials But. if should be noted that bureaucracy does not represent the only type of Iegal auihority Rather, parliamentary administration and all kinds of admimistrative bodies are included within bureaucracy when their functioning rests on enacted rules and organizational discipline.

It should be noted here that the crucial differcnce between charismatic authority and both of the other two types of authority is that the former is het unstable. This is because, the source and carrier of charismatic yare same, and therefore, it continues so long as it succeeds once. Cure of such authority Incans the loss of its legitimacy. A way out of this nation, says Weber, is the “reutilization of charisma” by which he means the transformation of charismatic authority, as far as possible, into the other two types of authority by the process of reutilization to maintain its continuity.


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