Tags: corporations, organizations/occupations/work, theory, weber, alienation, authority, bureaucracy, rationalization, white-collar, subtitles/CC, 06 to 10 mins
Access: Extended clip no online access; (short 2:11 clip available at MovieClips)
Summary: While the entire Office Space film is a great satire on bureaucracy and office work, this excerpt (on DVD begin at 0:30; end at 6:50; shorter clip available above) is particularly good for demonstrating Weber's concept of bureaucracy. It is also super funny. This clip specifically conveys key dimensions of bureaucracy: functions and roles organized by rules; positions organized in a hierarchy; administrative acts, decisions, and rules communicated through written documents; division of positions based on competencies; those in authority have greater pay and social status compared with those they manage; and positions within the bureaucracy are not dependent on an individual. Weber viewed bureaucracy as essential to industrial capitalism, but noted that the rationality of bureaucratic workplaces often turn us into "specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart." Like Lumberg in the clip above, the rationalized organization of the contemporary workplace (and life more generally), can rule over us like an "iron cage." As one watches the clip, you may want to consider how the workplace depicted in this clip does or does not match up to Weber's ideal-typical bureaucracy, and what are its consequences on workers and everyone throughout society?
Submitted By: Paul Dean
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