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The Need for Bureaucracy

In: Social Issues

Submitted By solekalibur
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| The Need for Bureaucracy | | | | |

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Name: Rob Lee
TA: Vanessa Dolishny
Student #: 250535352
Date: 2010-03-17

Throughout this course, inequality has been a topic that has been brought up in each sociological category. Some of these categories include religion, race and ethnicity, culture, education, and organizations and work. Karl Marx’s perspective of capitalist domination, which relates to each of these categories, suggests that the main cause of conflict in society is inequality, and this inequality brings about disadvantages to workers and benefits to the owners of capital. Although this perspective is backed by strong examples in today’s society, such as the decline in skilled labour leading to greater inequality between the proletariat (workers) and the bourgeoisie (capital owners), it spends too much time on blaming the structure of the system for making inequalities worse, without taking into consideration how much worse these inequalities would be today if the system were not structured the way it is. Therefore, when criticizing systems such as government, and its ability to organize and manage society, it is essential to recognize that without a government in place, and if society were to be adhocratic, the world would be chaotic and not nearly as efficient as it would be if a government were established. The government plays key roles in not only the stabilization of society, but also in helping it prosper in the long run. In this paper, I will argue through a functionalist perspective in that the government has a key function in organizing the regulation of both physical and human capital such that society may achieve prosperity, and that current issues within society would only get worse if the established government were to be abolished. A significant role that the government plays in society is to create effective property laws. These laws are essential to the physical capital accumulation within society, which in itself is also essential to efficiently achieve greater economic growth. Government-established laws that give individuals the right to their own property allow society to focus its time and energy on obtaining greater amounts of capital, without having to worry about the invasion or theft of the property in which they already own. For example, suppose a society loses its system of hierarchy (complete equality) and also its established property laws. This situation may not seem completely irrational at first glance, as one may argue that the equality of classes within the society may lead to economic growth and prosperity, but unfortunately, this is not the case. In adhocracy, society lives in fear and paranoia as the individuals and their property are vulnerable to those who have experienced morale deviation due to the lack of regulation. This deregulation causes a shift to take place transforming an organized and cooperative society into a chaotic and competitive one. Moreover, if this society’s hierarchical system and its property laws were then to be restored, each individual would be motivated to participate in and to reform the civil society it once was in order to maintain the property laws (Haddad 2003: p.23). This would allow the members of society to be alleviated of the fear and paranoia that had been once caused in a situation without the established laws in place. In addition to this example, if property rights were not established, workers would lack incentive to labour, as they would lack confidence in their labour resulting in an equivalent return for their efforts. (Haddad 2003: p.22). This exemplifies society’s need for an established hierarchy in order to assign laws as a means to protect private property in the pursuit of prosperity.

Another major role that the government plays in order to impact the success of society is managing the education system. As the workforce has an increasing demand for human capital, it becomes even more crucial for individuals to obtain an education if they wish to succeed. Despite this fact, there has been a significant amount of controversy in regards to how the education system increases the inequalities in society through processes such as streaming and labelling. Although this negative outcome caused by the education system is existent, if examined from a functionalist perspective, schools are still essential to the community as they are required in order to prepare individuals for their futures in the workforce. In an essay by Michael B. Katz (University of Pennsylvania), it is stated that if a greater amount of investment is put into education, it will in fact increase economic growth and reduce inequality. This argument is supported by the claim that there was a decline in inequality within the 20th century which was caused by a greater supply of educated workers (Katz 2009:191) combined with the fact that inequality is negatively correlated with the overall economic success of society (Dugger 1998: p.301). Although this reduced inequality is not fully recognized in today’s society, as critics such as conflict theorists point out factors within the system that are causing greater inequalities among social classes, Katz believes that “education takes a long time to work its magic” (Katz, 2009). In other words, issues such as economic growth and inequality are much too complex to be solved in the short run, which may be the reason behind why we still see signs of inequality within today’s well educated society. Moreover, if the government or organized structure were to be abolished, there would no longer be an education system in place, decreasing the overall intellectual capacity of society. Also, according to Katz, these measures would also be accompanied by an increase in inequality, which Dugger believes will result in the plundering of the entire economy. With that being said, it is evident that instead of spending time on criticizing the presence of the education system which we need, the best option available in improving society is to maintain bureaucracy, continue to increase human capital, and make patient, yet necessary changes to the current system. In the aforementioned arguments, the requirement of government to bring about sustainability in both human and physical capital has been justified, but the issue of organizational structure must also be observed through a broader scope in order to evaluate the true underlying effects of having cooperative societies as opposed to competitive ones. The major question that must be asked to determine which type of society is most effective is, “whose goals are met?” In cooperative societies with regulation, the parties agree upon a single congruent goal and are motivated to help one another, since the success of one individual is also the success of the group in its entirety, and vice versa. On the other hand, in a competitive society without regulation, the goals of the parties are incongruent, forming a large discrepancy between each party’s goals. Analysis has shown that positive social outcomes arose when these discrepancies between goals were smaller, whereas as these discrepancies grew, negative outcomes came about (van Knippenberg, van Knippenberg & Wilke 2001: p.297-298). An example of such negative outcomes includes the abuse of power, due to the lack of regulation to control the extent to which the weaker members of society are manipulated. If the aforementioned question is then to be answered using this information, it is apparent that in a competitive society, the only members within the parties whose goals are met are the select few who are most powerful, whereas the entire society would achieve its goal together in a cooperative society. This once again reinforces the argument that competition and lack of regulation results in greater inequalities, which in turn affects the overall economic success of society. This also provides critics including conflict theorists, insight on how bureaucracy may be the best option available for society in order to minimize inequalities.
Consequently, when evaluating government through a functionalist’s perspective, it may be argued that its existence alone is evidence of it being more effective than a competitive society. If this were not the case, society would have made that adjustment and become competitive already on its own. This tendency of society adjusting to its greatest benefit is exemplified in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. The Prisoner’s Dilemma is ultimately a game in which two criminals are caught committing a crime and are forced to play a game in which they are pleading either innocent or guilty, and each scenario results in different outcomes. The point of this game is to prove that the greatest benefit is gained from cooperation and trust between the two criminals, because if both deny the crime, they will both receive the greatest benefit, but if only one denies, then the one who denies will receive the worst penalty, whereas the one who confesses will receive even greater benefit than if he/she were to deny with the other criminal (Silverstein, Cross, Brown & Rachlin 1998: p.124). Therefore, as the risk is extremely high for both criminals, they are forced to expect the other criminal’s decision based on experiences. If criminals in the past have attempted this risky game and have succeeded, their approaches will also be noted and copied by future criminals who wish to receive the greatest possible benefits as well (Silverstein, Cross, Brown & Rachlin 1998: p.134). This game links back to society’s tendency to adjust because as the criminals in the game are able to look back at past experiences and utilize them in order to attain the best outcome, society is also able to look back at experiences and adjust to the greatest possible outcome, which it has. Another essential thing to note about this game is that although the prisoners may receive the best outcome from both denying, they are still sentenced, but just for a shorter period of time. This relates to society once again in the sense that society has adjusted to the best outcome (bureaucracy) through its experiences, but that does not eliminate all existent issues, such as inequality; it only minimizes them.

In conclusion, critics within society, especially conflict theorists, have consistently blamed the structure of society for widening the gap between the bourgeoisie and the proletariats failing to be considerate of the fact that the current system is established as a result of it simply being the best option available. Today’s society is maintained through bureaucracy, and this system came about from society’s ability to adapt in order to maximize benefit based on past experiences. In addition, the aforementioned arguments also provide specific reasons for which government is absolutely essential to the prosperity of civilization. These reasons include the fact that government provides a means to accumulate both human and physical capital with laws so that society can focus on economic growth, which is essentially the main goal of civilization itself. It provides education as a means to empower the workforce, and provides property laws as a means to protect the possessions of each party, both of which are essential to society in order to achieve economic growth. Moreover, the cooperative structure of society today also allows for a sharing of common goals, which is argued to be much more effective and efficient than that of a competitive structure, where goals differ significantly and each party is in a constant struggle to overcome one another. Therefore, in this paper, the function of government through the eyes of a functionalist has been examined and it has been provided that bureaucracy has a key function in organizing the regulation of both physical and human capital such that society may achieve prosperity, and current issues within society would only get worse if the established government were to be abolished. On that note, although government is established and it is the most beneficial structure available for society to resort to, it does not imply that there are no adjustments that could be made to reduce such inequalities and improve society. A recommendation for the current system to achieve its goal of reducing inequalities and achieving great economic growth would be to be patient, and make constant adjustments to the current policies. These adjustments will likely result in mistakes, but as proven through the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the mistakes made today are the benefits of tomorrow
References

Bergh, A, & Fink, G. (2008). Higher education policy, enrollment, and income inequality. Social
Science Quarterly, 89(1), 217-235. van Knippenberg, B, van Knippenberg, D, & Wilke, H.A. (2001). Power use in cooperative and competitive settings. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 23(4), 291-300.
Rabbie, J.M. (1998). Is there a Discontinuity or a reciprocity effect in cooperation and competition between individuals and groups? European Journal of Social Psychology,
28(4), 483-507.
Silverstein, A., Cross, D., Brown, J., & Rachlin, H. (1998). Prior experience and patterning in a prisoner's dilemma game. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 11(2), 123-138.
Katz, M.B. (2009). Can America ecucate itself out of inequality? Journal of Social History, 43(1), 183-193.
Dugger, W.M. (1998). Against Inequality. Journal of Economic Issues, 32(2), 287-303.
Haddad, B.M. (2003). Property rights, ecosystem management, and john locke's labor theory of ownership. Ecological Economics, 46(1), 19-31.

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