A Bureaucratic rationale is a system of authority which derives power through a power structure that is hierarchical (Crozier 1969) Authority is vested in positions available in the organizational structure and the people in these positions can practice control over others below them in the hierarchy. Panoptic on the other hand is type of authority with “an all seeing” institution or individual that is perceived to be watching subjects or society at any given time through thoughts and not the physical presence (Foucault & Sheridan 2012). These two types of authorities were criticized by Macintyre and Foucault. Their critiques brought the following differences and similarities
Power is relational
Macintyre critique believed that power and authority should stem from the social position and responsibility an individual has in his/her environment. These relationships create a force which determines how individuals should relate in creation of social order. A leader should act and represent a certain culture to earn authority over the others in an environment. A Lecturer should be recognized as a lecturer because of the knowledge and the ability to impact influence on the leaner and not as a position derived from a setup structure. Most educational institutions advocate a bureaucratic system of control with well defined obligations and relations. Macintyre criticizes this system as the social norms are disregarded which leads to impotency in management.
Foucault in his critique to panoptic also believes in power and authority being a concern of relationship. Power is to be understood in terms of the relationship that exists between institutions and groups tied together under the social, economic and even the political ties. Foucault believed that power did not belong to anyone and that it was to be spread out so that each individual. The Panoptic effect as symbolized by the Watch tower makes it possible to avoid having power being vested in an individual but an institution.
Power as a tool for domination
Foucault’s critique to panoptic and Macintyre’s critique of bureaucratic rationality highlighted the negative connotations that came about with this type of control. In both cases, the proponents’ idea was to create structures that could allow domination of authority over the subjects. In a Bureaucratic rationale, a person gain of power was by simply moving a step further in the organizational hierarchy. The bureaucratic rationale assumes that by Meer virtue of position, the subordinate submissive to the new order by simply acting to the normative constraints. Foucault criticized the panoptic effect. In this structure power was to be omnipresent and visible. The watch tower was a central element of significance to see all and be seen by all. The watch tower acted as a tool to force submission as the individual would always think he/she is being watched even when the contrary is true. It was thus difficult for the subjects to act contrary to the designed laws as long as the watch tower was there.
Diffusion of power
Foucault considers power to be diffused. The simple visibility of the watch tower is not a symbol of power but the power is embedded in the subjects who have been made to conform to certain standards because of the fear of surveillance. Macintyre critique to bureaucratic rationale did not view power as diffused. Power for Macintyre was to be created. Those in authority should be uncontested figures
Individualization and institutionalization of power
Secondly Foucault critique recognized power as belonging to an institution while Macintyre’s criticism recognized power to belong to an individual. For Foucault the model of power being institutionalized removed the elements of power abuse as well as economizing the process of management. For Macintyre’s critique, an individual with absolute power was likely to abuse it. Moreover there was likelihood that due to longer relation with subjects, it could compromise the strength to assert authority.
The differences and similarities in the Foucault critique and Macintyre’s critique of panoptic and Bureaucratic rationale respectively aim to show that power should not only be a preserve for the people at the higher level of authority but also at same levels and even below. This is what makes up a democratic authority.
Crozier, M. (1969). The Bureaucratic phenomenon. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr.
Foucault, M., & Sheridan, A. (2012). Discipline and punishment: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage.