Tag Archives: authority

Blog #2- Charismatic or Rational-Legal Authority or both? M.Weber

In this day and age, in my opinion, our media savvy society can be seen as having two types of authorities. A rational-legal authority is what one would generally think America is run by. This is because in a rational-legal authority, according to Weber, the leaders are elected by the public–electing anchors legitimacy.  So the reason why we agree to certain tasks our President completes is because we trusted and voted for him in the first place. Also, his work is backed up by the law.

But if you look at our President, he can also be seen as a charismatic leader. He is a rational-legal leader because American citizens voted for him on Election day but a charismatic leader because we are loyal and obedient to him. (Not all of America but the democrats who voted for him.) Charismatic leaders, according to Weber, can have good or bad charisma. A few examples of charismatic leaders are: Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and Hitler. Although these three charismatic authorities may not have had the exact same views,  they did have particular beliefs and ideas that people worshipped and praised.

Back to Obama, we can tell that when he first ran for President, he probably figured that he needed to have a good charisma for people to accept him as a rational-legal authority. His infamous “change” and “hope” speeches caught all of Americas attention, especially while being caught up in a recession and a war that was going on for 10+ years. If it wasn’t for his charismatic approach, maybe he would not have won.



Max Weber & An NFL Legend

Blog 3:

Being a diehard fan of the New York Giants has been, for the most part, an enjoyable experience over the past twenty years or so. That is, until this season. Embarrassing record aside though, one of the most difficult aspects of the Giants’ struggles this year has been watching the failures of Eli Manning. Eli is the affable and never flustered quarterback, whose calm mien continuously puts Giants fans at ease. The Giants’ most recent loss to the Chicago Bears had me thinking about many things, and oddly enough, Max Weber was one of them. Though one might assume I was pondering about whether Weber would have been a Giants fan, or if he’d have been a fan of American football at all, I was actually thinking about his views on legitimate authority, and how the pivotal position of quarterback might fit into his concepts.

I’m sure the literature within the subcategory of the sociology of sports has countless examinations of this position, its representation of society at large, its historical racial inequality, etc., these topics, while fascinating, are not what this post will focus on. What I was reflecting on after a tragic sixth loss in a row was a quarterback named Manning, but not Eli (I had thought sufficiently about him over the course of Thursday night’s game), I focused on his older brother Peyton.

Peyton Manning is unquestionably one of the most prolific players to ever quarterback in the NFL. His career has coincided with arguably the most exciting and record-breaking era of quarterbacking that the league has even seen. A recent article on the sports website Grantland detailed Peyton at this point in his career, and this piece had me ruminating further on Peyton’s mastery of the position, which undoubtedly has required both teammates and coaches to not only trust in him, but follow his directions. Although this relationship appears quite different from that of a president or a monarch and his or her citizens, Peyton’s role within the team definitely comes with “authority” as Weber would define it.

But what type of “authority” is this? It doesn’t possess the characteristics of Rational/Legal Authority, as it is not a law or a legal statute that the quarterback must lead the team. In fact, many teams, even Super Bowl winners, have not been led by their quarterbacks in terms of direction and moral, but derived their identity from players at other positions, like linebacker Ray Lewis on last year’s Baltimore Ravens, or lineman Warren Sapp on the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then what about Traditional Authority? It does seem as though “quarterback as leader” is the de facto result of the position’s role as orchestrator of a team’s offense, which has been more or less the case since the game’s development. While this iteration of Traditional Authority does not fully relate to that of a king in a monarchical society, I feel that there is some element of Traditional Authority in the position. Mainly because football’s positions and their responsibilities are so solidly entrenched in the way the game is played. However, I also believe that just as Weber felt that these were “ideal types” and that real life examples don’t always fit neatly into one category, that quarterbacks, and specifically those as masterful as Peyton Manning, possess an element of Charismatic Authority as well.

As writer Brian Phillips explains “most great quarterbacks, even most immobile pocket passers, give the impression of riding on chance, of keeping their bearings as chaos breaks out around them. Peyton Manning gives the impression of choreographing chance.” It is this seemingly unimaginable control and command that leads to his “charisma.” This “charisma” is reinforced further by his theatrical machinations at the line of scrimmage, where he hoots and hollers as he diagnosis the defense, changing the play when necessary to ensure success. And success he continuously has had. As Weber points out, “charisma” can wax and wane, and it is during the latter point that someone with Charismatic Authority loses his/her dominance. For Peyton Manning, this dwindling has yet to occur.

In viewing Manning within Weber’s framework however, there seems to be a contradiction. Weber emphasized society’s move towards rationalization, and the disenchantment that results from this hyper efficiency. Many quarterbacks have specific adjectives that are used to describe their style of play, and Peyton’s would include methodical, efficient, cerebral, and dominant. Phillips even goes as far as saying that when Manning plays football, “he goes out every week with a graphing calculator and a stack of forms, and he just audits teams to death.” It doesn’t get more efficient than that. But while these words definitely echo a rational approach, watching Manning lead an offense is anything but disenchanting. In fact, it’s poetry in motion.

I don’t know what all this proves, it might just be an argument for why sports seem transcendent to me, and maybe it’s just a justification for spending so much time caring about them, but somehow Max Weber made me appreciate football a little bit more than I did last week.

Embedded are the Phillips article and a Peyton Manning highlight video. Enjoy.

Blog 2: Weber on Domination (Authority) and Legitimacy

In The Types of Legitimate Domination (1925), Max Weber addresses how domination (authority) is the “probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons” that “requires a staff, that is, a special group that can normally be trusted to execute the general policy as well as the specific commands” (204). He continues on to describe three pure types of legitimate domination that demonstrate their own form of authority: rational-legal authority, traditional authority, and charismatic authority. Rational-legal authority is where “obedience is owed to the legally established impersonal order [that] extends to the persons exercising the authority of office under it by virtue of the formal legality of their commands and only within the scope of authority of the office,” whereas in traditional authority, obedience is seen as a “matter of personal loyalty within the area of accustomed obligations [that] is owed to the person of the chief who occupies the traditionally sanctioned position of authority and who is (within its sphere) bound by tradition” (204-205). Charismatic authority differs from these two because while “the charismatically qualified leader is obeyed by virtue of personal trust in his revelation, his heroism or his exemplary qualities so far as they fall within the scope of the individual’s belief in his charisma” (205), it does have its personal setbacks. If the charismatic leader’s “prophecies are proved wrong, enemies are not defeated, [or] miraculous deeds begin to ‘dry up,’ then his legitimacy will be called into question” and “the movement he inspired will collapse along with his rule, unless designs for a successor are developed.” For instance, in the film The Hunger Games (2012), it is evident that the antagonist, President Snow, displays a mix of rational-legal, traditional, and charismatic authority under his dictatorial rule.

            Under rational-legal authority, President Snow is obeyed as a superior of his impersonal order, who rules the nation of Panem under a single-party dictatorship (called the Capitol) that is structured under a consistent system of abstract rules. Panem is also divided into twelve districts that either live in great prosperity or suffer from extreme cases of poverty and famine, and due to the aggressive ways of the depicted totalitarian society, some of the female citizens have learned to acquire certain qualities that make them stand out more than the male citizens in preparation for the upcoming Games. The traditional aspect of President Snow’s authority is how, under his discretion, the twelve districts are forced to take part in an annual morbid competition of survival called the Hunger Games, which have been held for the past 74 years and effectively exhibit the oppressive power of the Capitol. The competition is structured as one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each of the twelve districts as tributes, prepare for a week, and are then sent into an outdoor arena to fight to their death; the event is nationally televised as mandatory viewing for all citizens. Under his charismatic authority, President Snow constitutes his “mission” in teaching the districts the consequences of attempting to rebel against his structured order, which has proved effective since no one has revolted in outrage against the cruelty being placed against their children because it is likely that do not want to be obliterated like the citizens of District 13. However, his charisma may begin to fade away as seen in how former Games tribute Katniss Everdeen inspires the beginning of an uprising after winning the competition at the end of the film that will be further escalated in the upcoming sequel Catching Fire (2013).

Blog#6: House of Sand and Fog

The film “House of sand and fog” that we viewed in class had so much to do with what Durkeim and Weber’s key concepts were outlining so many centuries ago. When it comes to Durkeim, anomie is very apparent in the film. Anomie stresses the lack of moral regulation. Colonnel Behrani was abusive towards his wife. This made her have great anomie and she was petrified of him. Also, Behrani grabbed Kathy by the arm with great force and left a mark. He clearly lacks moral regulation.

Egoism is also present here or the lack of integration into a social group. Kathy hears her brother’s wife is pregnant and they are starting a family. Kathy feels as if her life isn’t up to speed and her husband left her so she doesn’t know where she fits within society. Also the Behrani’s aren’t sure if they are going to be deported back to Iran or not based on Officer Lester Burton’s threats. Sacred and profane issues are also present. The home is sacred to both Behrani and Kathy. The Behrani’s don’t want blood drippings or dirt in their home and Kathy doesn’t like people smoking in the home. The home connects these two different persons and it becomes their identity in a way.

Profane issues are present because they are following a routine of working and providing for themselves (the protestant ethic). Authority is also present which is Weber’s concept. The officer exercized his authority by threatening the Behrani family with deportation due to the housing situation. Class and status issues are also present. Col. Behrani is used to being of higher standing in Iran. He’s used to people adhering to his agenda. Kathy isn’t used to not having a home because she inherited this house. Both people are exemplary of Durkeim’s and Weber’s key concepts.

Blog #4: Is Weber’s notion of authority relevant today?

Sociologist Max Weber in his “Types of Legitimate Domination”, created a typology for us Sociologists to understand the power of authority and its effect on individuals. Weber believed that authority played a large rule in society and how it inherently effects the way us individuals act. Authority according to Weber can be categorized in three forms: Rational-legal, Traditional, and Charismatic. These three different types of authority can be achieved in separate ways, and require different types of political actors to be involved. Rational-legal is achieved mainly through legal means, which allows its authority to be legitimate. Traditional is achieved through means of tradition, commonality, and history. People legitimize this type of authority because “its always been this way”. Charismatic is vastly different than either of the previous two. Its authority it legitimized mainly through a charismatic leader that is able to capitalize on his state’s dire condition, and is able to disseminate his views on consolidating that state through verbal means, and acts that accepted by the masses.

Now the question is are these types of authority still relevant today? In my opinion they very much are. Rational-legal can be seen here in the United States. The way we legitimize our political actors and their policies are through legal means that have been implemented by federal, state, and local laws. These laws are based on the constitution which wanted to achieve a “government with the consent of the governed”. Barack Obama and our government have rational-legal authority on us U.S. citizens because they were elected through legal means, and can be removed through those legal means as well.

Traditional authority can be seen outside of the United States. In countries like Jordan, they have a constitutional Monarchy that exerts their power on the acting government. This monarchy has achieved their legitimacy through traditional means, since their power is possessed through “divine right”. Although this type of traditional authority is seen as “out-dated” it still exists, and people in those nations exude confidence in their decisions and political agendas.

Charismatic leaders exist as well. The most prevalent one that comes to mind is Hugo Chavez. During Venezuela’s economic and political instability in the late 1990’s, he was able to capitalize on his country’s dire state and had a successful coupe d’etat. Ever since then he has been able to stay in power and win incumbent presidential elections. Although he is portrayed as an antagonist in terms of foreign relations with the United States, he has been able to gather support within his country in order to successfully rule it for over a decade.

Blog #2- Weber, from Authority to Bureaucracy

Weber describes three different types of authorities: The rational-legal which rests on the believe that laws are the legitimate form of domination, traditional which rests on the belief in the sanctity of traditions and that traditions are the legitimate form of how to become dominate, and finally charismatic authority which rests on the belief that you obey because you are moved by the charismatic qualities a person possesses and therefore you will listen to them and that is how they become dominate.  After looking into how he sees the different types of authorities dominating, I then read his views on Bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy is a type of government where decisions are made not by the elected officials, but instead by organizations or state officials.  This is a different type of authority then the three Weber has previously discussed.  It seems that bureaucracy instead encompasses all three types of these authorities.  Weber describes bureaucracy as the ideal type of government, but he goes on further to describe the ideal form of bureaucracy.

It encompasses the idea of regional-legal authority because laws still exist in a bureaucracy.  Although the laws are enforced not by elected officials, but instead by organizations that were not elected.  It shows traditional authority because it seems to keep the same type of people holding positions of hierarchy who keep many of the same laws and rules in action.  Charismatic authority is shown in bureaucracy because the people in power didn’t come into power by being elected, but instead speaking to people in a way that makes them obey and do what they want.

Blog 5: Webster’s definitions of authority

Webster defines authority as a claim to legitimacy, In other words, the control and demands seems to legitimate based on three principles. These three principles are (1) voluntary compliance or in obedience, obedience and staffs or assistances to execute the general policy. Webster further describes three types of authorities, rational-legal authority, traditional authority and charisma authority. Rational-legal authority is when “it rest on the belief in the legality of enacted rules” for instance, the Supreme Court judge.  The Supreme Court Judge uses techniques and goes by the law to figure out the truth from the defendant and plaintiff. He must obey all laws of the United State and give the proper treatment without any impersonal interest on each individual. Whoever is committed of a crime, the Supreme Court judge must decide the appropriate punishment to fit the crime that an individual committed.

Webster continues to explain that traditional authority is when” it rests on the established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions” I personally think traditional and rational –legal authority both intersects each other. The reason for that is traditional authority is based on customs that has been around for many years. This tradition authority is a reflection of rational legal authority of an individual. If that makes any sense? For instance the Supreme Court or any court system in the U.S. has been in the U.S. for many years now and these people in position must follow traditional laws. The Supreme Court judge must decide on his decision based on what he was taught from other judges before him or her. Another example is President Obama; he can also be linked to traditional authority because of his position. Similar to the U.S. courts, the presidents of U.S. from many years to now have been following the same concept and regulations of the country. The people always changes but the roles of the position are handed down from generation to generation.

Webster then ends it with Charismatic authority which “rests on the devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person”. It is said in class that Charismatic authority do not influence others because to improve economic stability but for their own or other’s purposes. For instance Mohammad Gandhi used charismatic authority to start the independence movement in India. His form of charismatic authority was not used by force but volunteerism. Citizens of India followed Gandhi because he stood for everyone in the country and peace. In other words, the citizens of India wanted to join in with the protest.  Another example is Hitler; he was considered a charismatic authority because he was a symbolic figure for the Germans. He did not want to improve the country economically but rather save his people from torment, shame and blame.  He was an idol and godly figure in the country of Germany.  People relied on him for protection, assurance and hope. Similar to Gandhi, Hitler rose because an event in the country that inspired him to take action in his own hands.

It also seems to me that charismatic authority has a relation with Marx’s idea of alienation. Hitler and Gandhi are people who have been humiliated and alienated by others. Because of how they were treated, it forces them to form a different perspective of their surroundings. This is how they rose to become an idol or an authoritative figure in history. Thus, alienation and humiliation plays a crucial part of history.