Tag Archives: rational-legal authority

Blog #1: Weber’s 3 types of Legitimate Authority

I agree with Max Weber’s idea that there are three types of authority.  Weber defines authority as the probability of certain specific commands or all commands will be obeyed by a given groups of persons.  He divides authority into three legitimate types: traditional authority, charismatic authority, and rational-legal authority.  Traditional authority comes from the belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions.  One example of this type of authority is the authority given by the King and Queen of England.  Their authority is passed down from one generation to the next.  Some characteristics of traditional authority include:  it being handed down from past generations, rule over others without question, it is given legitimacy by custom, and that it has always been done this way.

Weber says that charismatic authority “rests on the devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person.”  This type of authority depends on the relationship between the leader and the followers.  Some characteristics of charismatic authority include: leadership must benefit followers, leaders are worshipped in some way spiritually or heroically, followers listen and do what leaders say to appease them.  Two examples of this type of authority are Pope Benedict XVI and Adolf Hitler.  Two very different types of leaders that fall under the charismatic type of authority.

Weber’s last type of authority is rational-legal.  We give power to these leaders by electing them and by doing this these leaders have power over us.  An example of this type of authority is the President of the United States.  We vote for him so that he can become president and by doing so giving him the legitimate authority to rule over the United States.  I agree with Weber’s interpretation of authority and how they are broken down into three different categories.


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.


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.