Interesting social sciences/Social organization

Social organizations: sect, prison, bureaucracy.

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Differences between small groups and organizations.


In my opinion, the main difference between small groups and organizations consists in the form of social control, which applies at constructing groups and organizations. Small groups are built mainly on moral control, only criminal and, in part, the teenager’s groups are built on armed control and corporal punishments. Organizations cannot be built on moral control in principle. Charismatic sects are transitional step from group to the organization. Charismatic sects are based on religious control. Total institutions are built on armed control. Bureaucracy is built on the administrative control. A private firms are built on the economic control.

Other differences small group from the organization are the number of members and character of the relationship. The number of members of the small group cannot exceed 15 people. For comparison, even a few hundred thousand persons may consist in the bureaucratic organization. Personal relationships are established among the members of the small group. Formal relations are established among members of the bureaucratic organizations that appear to formal bureaucratic style of communication.

Thus, four types of the organizations were listed above:

  • a charismatic sect,
  • a total institution,
  • a bureaucracy,
  • a private firm.

The description of the relations only in a charismatic sect, a total institution and a bureaucracy exists in sociological literature. This description will be given below.

Charismatic sect.


For example, leaders such charismatic sects were Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Shoko Asahara (real name Chizuo Matsumoto). Shoko Asahara was fourth son of poor weaver of tatami mats in village on the island Kyushu. Shoko Asakhara has lost eyesight in the childhood because of glaucoma. Shoko Asakhara has begun to preach proximity of doomsday and Shoko Asakhara has said that the United States will begin the Armageddon, World War III with Japan. Five members of Aum Shinrikyo have sprayed sarin gas in Tokyo subway on 20 March 1995, as result there were many victims among the passengers. Shoko Asakhara was sentenced to death through hanging.

The charisma is an ability of the leader to inspire belief that leader can create wonders that leader is god or "wizard".

If before forty levels or floors authorities exist within the bureaucracy, then only two or three levels exists in the charismatic sect:

  • a charismatic leader,
  • disciples or “apostles”,
  • ordinary believers.

Unlike bureaucracy, believers have almost no opportunity to move ahead on service and to do career in charismatic sect because of such small number of levels of the power. Some possibility of advance from ordinary believers to disciple don't depend from bureaucratic merits and from an experience of faultless service, but advance of believers ahead on service depends from degree of love of the charismatic leader to own colleague that means a full arbitrariness of the charismatic leader in this question. This charismatic leader is the tyrant capable to sentence of turncoats and heretics to death often. Charismatic sects, unlike bureaucracy, break up in that case when the charismatic leader dies as Christ, or charismatic leader was dishonored. Unlike small group, before one thousand people can be by members of charismatic sect, but not before 15 people. [1] In my opinion, the charismatic sect is constructed on religious sanctions - on threats to send to paradise or to hell.

The total institution

Prison "Crosses"in St. Petersburg

Examples of total institutions are an army’s barracks, ship team, prison, military college, concentration camps, monastery, the hospital for the blind people, elderly people, madmen, beggars.[2] A strong team of security guards or old authorities and weak group beginners exist in total institution. Total institution is built on armed control when security guards or old authorities (thief in law in Russian prison) applies corporal punishment to prison people. The inhabitants of these total institutions are isolated from the outside world and the inhabitants of these total institutions are not able to complain on abuses of security guards.

Reception rituals exists in the first phase when security guards create a faceless gray mass from beginners and security guards beat those beginners who rises over plain surface of the total mass. Choleric persons with extravagant behavior, the melancholic persons, potential leaders, weak persons incapable to show resistance are such beginners whom security guard beats. Therefore, the first advice for beginners is that beginners should not rises over plain surface of the total mass in the first stage, beginners should not humiliate before strong men. Second advice is that beginners must acquire a role of cadets, soldier, monk or prisoner in the second stage quickly. Strong links arise inside the faceless gray mass, because beginners become identical and similar. Beginners have to study a slang, rituals, insignias in a form of tattoos and details of clothes. Tattoos on the body of prisoner mean a lot for skilled person. All these elements become by passionate defended subculture – criminal subculture, barrack’s or monastic subcultures. A manifestation of these subcultures is such style in popular culture as prison’s or soldier’s chanson.

The bureaucracy

The Egyptian copyist with a papyrian roll

Max Weber singled out seven features of bureaucracy:

  • Division of labour and specialization. Each role has a list of rights and duties.
  • Order of subordination or pyramid of power. The roles form a hierarchy. Each official has an immediate superior.
  • Public office, where written documents are collected.
  • The employee has to have hope for advance on an office ladder. the Employee has to earn a reward for post level. Official procedure exist for preparing of officials.
  • Staff employees have to reject personal reasons in contacts with clients and staff employees have to be impartial.
  • Rules of the routine which regulate an the regime of work, for example, time of the beginning of work, completion of work and a lunch break. Observance of rules of the routine does behavior of employees as predictable. The predictability of behavior of employees allows to increase efficiency of this organization and to increase the labor productivity. The predictability of behavior of employees allows to stop cases of imitation of work, truancies and delays for work, disobedience and confusion. The staff employee of the organization is similar to obedient small screws and gears of the huge machine.
  • Loyalty of the employee to rules, that is readiness to follow to rules. Rational and irrational conflicts happen within the bureaucracy. [3]

In my opinion, it is possible to add two features to these seven features else:

  • Observance of these rules of the routine is constructed on threat of application from the immediate superior to his subordinates of administrative punishments – increase or demotion to the service, the dismissal or providing of work.
  • Employees conduct among themselves struggle of cliques behind the scenes for the power in the organization.

Definition: The bureaucracy is the hierarchical organization which was constructed on administrative control and secret fight of cliques for the power behind the scenes.

The chiefs try to obtain blind submission by means of use of a uniform. Rational and irrational conflicts happen within the bureaucracy. The irrational conflicts happen because of psychological incompatibility of the chief and subordinated people. For example, authoritative imperious man submits hardly to the power of the same tough chief because the anger and hostility boils in soul of this subordinated employee.[4]

History of the invention of bureaucracy

Ivanov, Sergey Vasilyevich. "Baskaks". 1909. Museum of history of the city of Moscow. Tatar-Mongolian Baskaks collect taxes on the Russian people.
Picture of Ugryumov Grigory Ivanovichtsar. "Tsar Ivan 4 Terrible under occupation of Kazan".

Bureaucracy is an old invention. Bureaucracy was invented in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and then bureaucracy was introduced in Persia, India, China, Roman Empire and Byzantium.[5] Chinese have taught of Mongols to collect taxes in conquered countries, including Russia. Thus, just Mongols have brought of Russia such great social inventions as bureaucracy and taxes. Roman Empire has borrowed such inventions as taxes and bureaucracy from Ancient Egypt, and countries of Western Europe, in turn, borrowed these inventions from the Roman Empire. Hieroglyphic writing, fundamentals of geometry, papyrus and cadastre were invented for writing of taxes in Ancient Egypt.

Bureaucracy has negative features, main of which is economic inefficiency of bureaucracy, compared with a private firm. Reason of this economic inefficiency of bureaucracy is the fact that administrative control, on which bureaucracy is constructed, is less efficient compared with the economic control on which a private firm is constructed. This inefficiency of bureaucracy became the main reason for defeat of a socialist system in a competition with a capitalist system.

Cyril Nortkot Parkinson [6] have concluded the law, according to which the number of employees tends to increase automatically because each chief wants to have more subordinates. Any reform in society, in fact, leads to increase the number of officials, even if reformers have set the purpose at the beginning of reforms to reduce quantity of officials. Max Weber have made the forecast for the future: we should reconcile with a thought about further enlargement of bureaucracy. Max Weber[7] wrote that dictatorship of officials dominates in the Soviet Union rather than a dictatorship of the proletariat. Although the collapse of socialism was to reduce the number of officials in Russia, but everything has turned out on the contrary according to Parkinson's law. Ordinary employees don't care about ultimate purposes of the organization because ordinary employees are busy by creation of papers – pointless rewriting of papers.

Size of the Federal Government apparatus in the US has been a source of concern always because of the large expenditure on bureaucracy. Suspicions exists that some institutions, created in view of these or those extraordinary events, can continue the useless work even then when the problem has disappeared, and the president has forgotten "to close a shop" as superfluous. Different institutions can perform the same work. Therefore, all Presidents should strive to reduce bureaucracy, but bureaucracy resists to this attempts always.

Citations and references

  1. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.
  2. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.
  3. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.
  4. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.
  5. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.
  6. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.
  7. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 6. Organizations.