A British bureaucratic revolution ? Uncontrolled autonomy or "freer markets, more rules"
A British bureaucratic revolution ? Uncontrolled autonomy or « freer markets, more rules »
This article originated with a puzzle : how best to account for changes in the behavior of groups, organizations and individuals in Great Britain ? A detailed analysis of what Weber and Polanyi identified as interdependencies between state and market, and of the state’s role in creating the market, led to the decision to adapt the notion of bureaucratic revolution put forward by Weber. We argue that the British bureaucratic revolution is reflected in the fact that the state plays an essential role in social change by creating rules and institutions that lastingly orient actors’ behavior. The examples of health and local authorities are then used to identify mechanisms that were influential throughout a ten-year period ; specifically the introduction of competition features (rewards and punishments) and of auditing and inspection. If our interpretation is accurate, the effects of this bureaucratic revolution may well come to be felt in contexts other than Great Britain.