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Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism / Susan L. Robertson

Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Volume: 25, Issue: 1, Start page: 187

Abstract

The social infrastructures that constitute both public and private administration are increasingly entangled with digital code, big data, and algorithms. While some argue these technologies have blown apart the strictures of bureaucratic order, we see more subtle changes at work. We suggest that far...

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Published in: Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies
ISSN: 10800727
Published: 2018
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa33093
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first_indexed 2017-04-26T13:06:52Z
last_indexed 2020-07-15T12:50:48Z
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spelling 2020-07-15T12:48:15.6601107 v2 33093 2017-04-26 Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism 2017-04-26 The social infrastructures that constitute both public and private administration are increasingly entangled with digital code, big data, and algorithms. While some argue these technologies have blown apart the strictures of bureaucratic order, we see more subtle changes at work. We suggest that far from a radical rupture, in today’s digitizing society, there are strong traces of the logic and techniques of Max Weber’s bureau; a foundational concept in his account of the symbiotic relationship between modernity, capitalism, and social order. We suggest the manner through which these techniques have shaped contemporary systems of social administration helps explain the remarkable legitimacy digital governance has acquired. We do this by exploring how digital technologies draw from, and give new substance to, the three key principles of Weber’s theory of the bureau—efficiency, objectivity, and rationality. We argue that neoliberalism, or the widespread economization of politics, has conditioned the digital versions of these principles, not least by subordinating social ends to technical means. At the same time we argue that digitalism engenders the privatization of authority, not least through its “elective affinity” with market logics. Journal Article Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 25 1 187 10800727 bureaucracy, Max Weber, social order, data, digital, information technology, control, rationality, neoliberalism 30 6 2018 2018-06-30 10.2979/indjglolegstu.25.1.0187 COLLEGE NANME COLLEGE CODE Swansea University 2020-07-15T12:48:15.6601107 2017-04-26T10:03:44.8840053 College of Science Geography Susan L. Robertson 1 0033093-09032018150610.pdf Muellerleile-Robertson-DigitalWeberianism.pdf 2018-03-09T15:06:10.0570000 Output 506658 application/pdf Accepted Manuscript true 2019-12-01T00:00:00.0000000 true eng
title Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
spellingShingle Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
,
title_short Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
title_full Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
title_fullStr Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
title_full_unstemmed Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
title_sort Digital Weberianism: Bureaucracy, Information, and the Techno-rationality of Neoliberal Capitalism
author ,
author2 Susan L. Robertson
format Journal article
container_title Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies
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publishDate 2018
institution Swansea University
issn 10800727
doi_str_mv 10.2979/indjglolegstu.25.1.0187
college_str College of Science
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hierarchy_parent_title College of Science
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description The social infrastructures that constitute both public and private administration are increasingly entangled with digital code, big data, and algorithms. While some argue these technologies have blown apart the strictures of bureaucratic order, we see more subtle changes at work. We suggest that far from a radical rupture, in today’s digitizing society, there are strong traces of the logic and techniques of Max Weber’s bureau; a foundational concept in his account of the symbiotic relationship between modernity, capitalism, and social order. We suggest the manner through which these techniques have shaped contemporary systems of social administration helps explain the remarkable legitimacy digital governance has acquired. We do this by exploring how digital technologies draw from, and give new substance to, the three key principles of Weber’s theory of the bureau—efficiency, objectivity, and rationality. We argue that neoliberalism, or the widespread economization of politics, has conditioned the digital versions of these principles, not least by subordinating social ends to technical means. At the same time we argue that digitalism engenders the privatization of authority, not least through its “elective affinity” with market logics.
published_date 2018-06-30T03:50:16Z
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