New Spirits of Public Management…‘Post-Bureaucracy’

Paul du Gay

in New Spirits of Capitalism?

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199595341
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191750755 | DOI:
New Spirits of Public Management…‘Post-Bureaucracy’

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The chapter explores some of the reforms of the public administration as a bureaucratic institution of government that have accompanied the rise of the New Public Management and Network Governance, and examines their consequences for the relationship between ‘person’ and ‘office’ in the practice of governmental administration. Although, Boltanski and Chiapello have little to say on the topic of public management reform, in itself something of a lacuna in their project, the chapter seeks to make connections, and draw some distinctions, too, with the analysis of the New Spirit of Capitalism that they they proffer. In so doing, the chapter draws attention to the manner in which bureaucratic practices in governmental administration, routinely represented as ‘anachronistic’ by contemporary reformers, can be seen to provide some useful illustrations of the ‘conservation standards’ appropriate to the political management of the state, including the management of ‘change ‘within the state. The chapter suggests that there is not only a suppleness and integrity to the practices of hierarchical bureaucracy that often eludes the gaze of its critics, but also that bureaucracy itself in producing predictability in a state's decisions, actually enhances, indeed, even constitutes, the freedom and flexibility of those operating within the state's field of vision.

Keywords: Weber; bureaucracy; office; person; New Public Management; State; freedom

Chapter.  9090 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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