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Concept of Authoritarian State Essay


This paper discusses the concepts of authoritarian state and the importance of bureaucratic context in decision making. This is carried out by outlining the main features of an authoritarian state and using examples in real life to make the discussion relevant and practical. Bureaucracy is defined in details and its significance in decision making is brought out.

Concept of Authoritarian State

Authoritarian states are governed by authoritarian state regimes that suffer from crises of legitimacy and governance. The evolution of authoritarian regimes is caused by situations where legitimacy of other regimes form democracy and is undermined due to the inability of the government to solve various issues that afflict the society.

In some situations, the incapacity of the government of the day can spark crises of confidence in the governing regime hence rendering it vulnerable to insurrections and coups.

The incoming government can turn to be authoritarian in its measures to concentrate power and vest it in a string executive that might be capable of providing solutions to the problems that face the people. Authoritarian state is one that is caused by governance crises within a latent democracy.

Authoritarian states have found it hard to legitimate them because democracy has emerged as a pervasive phenomenon that monopolizes legitimacy throughout the world. Authoritarian regimes are considered to be so after a long period of perceived illegitimacy. Authoritarian state is associated with various forms of leadership like dictatorship, patrimonialism autocracy and dictatorship (Magstadt, 2011).

An authoritarian state appears as such from the perspective of mass-election democracy that looks as liberal from the position of total state program. Authoritarian state has some degree of internal lawlessness.

In this context, the society remains the main agent of development which has transformed to be a strong state that if it could have been in an absolute state, it could have been converted to a democratic parliamentary representation that can be passed into the next stage of state formation of self-organization after coming from old dynastic state authority.

There is a tension between the state and the society that emanate from the constant supremacy of the holders of absolute power that can be based on military or the nobility as well as other administrative apparatus. In a totalitarian state, the society is made up of economic and cultural connections that slowly developed into a state.

In authoritarian states, the regulation and the guarding of truth by the government is very important. Authoritarian regimes in these states utilize ignorance and hopelessness as instruments to control the general public. An example in this context is China that has censored the internet in order to conceal critical information from the public.

In an authoritarian state, the judicial system subscribes to the ideals and practices of the states security apparatus and it is devoid of standards of due process of the law. It is characterized by handpicked judges that are handpicked and hence their degree of autonomy or independence is compromised.

An authoritarian state has some authority that curtails the individual freedoms particularly those of thought and actions. The political system in an authoritarian is mainly concentrated in one leader or a clique of ruling elites. Austria is a perfect case of authoritarian state because the authority of the government is purely in the hands of authoritarian power that serves as both the constitution and institution.

Another classical example is the Austria state which has an authoritarian constitution and where power is legitimized through the maintenance and the developing of an Austria state. Authoritarian rule is eminent in in the legitimization of sovereignty and the rules only work for the institution of the state.

The state and the personal authority of the government are placed squarely in the hands of an authoritarian power. This authority has some sense of anonymity and impersonality.

In an authoritarian state, for example, the ruler of the person in power considers himself/herself the only source of the law and the constitution and through his legitimacy they present themselves as the institution’s representative. The institutions of an authoritarian state are founded on veils that consist of administrative state.

From the above explanation, the following are the common types of authoritarian states: Autocracy; this is the dictatorship form that involves a state that is ruled by one ruler and it may also be a monarchy. There is also an oligarchy; this is a state that is ruled or governed by a military junta and it only has one party state.

Authoritarian state does not rely on instilling fear to the population alone but the people support the government for various reasons. There are also variations in goals and the existence of a powerful state society relationship.

There is also a high concentration and centralization of power where political power is maintained and it is also generated by repressive government authority which eliminates or excludes potential challengers in the political contest.

In an authoritarian state, mass organizations and political parties are used to mobilize people along the goals and the objectives of the government and can only be weakened when it fails to meet the demands of the people (Voegelin & Caringella, 1989).

Importance of Bureaucratic Context in Decision Making

There is no universal definition of bureaucracy. It has been linked to rigidity and inefficient government administrators and it is also associated with delays, red-tapes and wastefulness.

Bureaucracy is defined as the organizations of non-elected government or organization’s officials that are charged with the implementation of laws, rules and the functions of their respective institutions. The main feature of bureaucracy is red tape and officialism.

There is no government or organization that does not function without bureaucracy since it is considered as a machine that is required to run the government of the day. The influence of bureaucrats in decision making and implementation of policy makes it crucial to any political establishment.

Bureaucracies are considered to be organizations or behaving entities that have the ability to Marshall all the legal, material and organizational resources to achieve their missions while socializing with other governmental agencies. Bureaucrats are expected to have the last say in exercising their discretion and meeting the set responsibilities.

There is also the bureaucracy of political behavior which refers to the possibility of officials working together in the public sector and they have their different goals and corresponding behaviors that do not necessarily represent the best policy choices from the perspective of human welfare (Peters, 2001).

In a highly charged and partisan political environment like the American one where there is limited or no consensus between official government actors and the non-actors, bureaucrats are often taken to be non-partisan and are considered as the best to mediate between the existing political battles that can threaten to pull the country apart.

In governments that are characterized by mistrust all decisions made are considered to be political and it is deemed appropriate that it is handled by bureaucrats that is comprised of technical, managerial and non political individuals who can make the best and most neutral decisions.

Bureaucratic contexts are characterized by the negotiation and bargaining between various actors that have different levels of power and varied interests. Bureaucracies in making decisions are influenced by compromises, bargains and the games that are played.

There is a collaborative decisions making process in various organizations that have their own bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is necessary when it is analyzed from the technical perspective. Max Weber considered bureaucracy as the best and the most efficient method of decisions making and it cannot be flexible or inefficient.

Bureaucracies are the main providers of services to the public and other key players in governance. This has led to the increased role of the bureaucrats in the processing of routine cases. The high dependence on the bureaucrats has led to the appreciation of their role in decision making.

Expertise, specialization and knowledge are the strategic ingredient of bureaucracy. Bureaucracies emphasize professionalism and they recruit professionals who are accorded authority because of their professional qualifications. The art of decision making in the bureaucratic context varies considerably and it is highly dependent on matters like the power position, the stages of policy and decision making and the type and nature of the policy scrutinized as well as the level of the policy involved.

The strategic source of bureaucratic is their ability to influence decision making context especially through the timing of decisions and control of information. Bureaucracies control information that is critical and relevant to governance. The bureaucracy has developed as a powerful, ubiquitous and dominant institution in every political system, particularly in administration and decisions making.

Decision making in a bureaucratic context entails the setting of time and schedules and working to realize the decisions within that specified time. Bureaucracies according to Max Weber were believed to enhance efficiency and rationality through the assigning of responsibility to different tasks for different people. Bureaucracies defined the standards and the rules as well as the operating procedures that dictate how task are performed.

Bureaucratic context has been adopted by the USA and it is considered as an administrative state that exists to ensure that there is accountability and to input standard into the quality of decision making though standards of rationality and participatory opportunities.

It becomes hard and difficult for an average or exceptional citizen to disagree or dispute with decisions that are initiated by a technologically experienced, expertise and well insulated bureaucracy. This has converted the government to be an amalgamation of large organizations that make their own decisions.

It has however been established that the domination of the elite and technological experienced people in the decision making of democratic societies is not considered as a problem but no easy solution to it. It is therefore necessary to adopt a system of electronic democracy that can make it possible for the public to contribute to all public decisions or rather to fully take part in decision making (Haritz, 2004).


Haritz, A. (2004). Business processes: an archival science approach to collaborative decision making, records, and knowledge management. Dordrecht, Germany: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Magstadt, T. M. (2011). Understanding politics: ideas, institutions, and issues (9th ed.). New York, NY: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Peters, B. G. (2001). The politics of bureaucracy (5th ed.). London, UK: Routledge

Voegelin, E., & Caringella, P. (1989). Published Essays 1953-1965: Columbia, MO: University of Missouri.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Concept of Authoritarian State." March 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/concept-of-authoritarian-state/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Concept of Authoritarian State'. 29 March.

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