Rational legal authority is a form of leadership in which authority is largely linked to legal rationality, legal legitimacy, and bureaucracy. This type of authority is usually found in modern democracies, where elected officials make laws that everyone is obliged to abide by. Weber wrote that the modern state, based on rational and legal authority, emerged from the struggle for patrimonial and feudal power (see traditional authority), unique in Western civilization. The prerequisites for the modern Western state are as follows: According to Weber, the rational and legal system was first conceived and perfected by large capitalist enterprises and was only later adopted by entities such as the state. In traditional authority, the legitimacy of authority comes from tradition. Charismatic authority is legitimized by the personality and leadership qualities of the individual in power. Finally, rational and legal authority derives its powers from the system of bureaucracy and legality. Charismatic authority, Weber noted, is inherently unstable, although its temporary effects, and thus its historical consequences, may be significant. Gradually, the critical charismatic leader must materially support his followers, which marks the beginning of the transformation of the charism in everyday life. Charismatic regimes also face problems of succession, and the “routinization” of charisma through rituals to transmit charisma to followers quickly turns into something like a traditional authority or, alternatively, a bureaucratic system.
Weber identifies three types of “pure” legitimate authority: rational and legal authority is based “on the belief in the `legality` of models of normative rules and the right of those who are elevated to authority by virtue of these rules to give orders”; Traditional authority is based “on a firm belief in the sanctity of ancient traditions and the legitimacy of the status of those who exercise authority.” and charismatic authority rests “on devotion to the specific and extraordinary holiness, heroism or exemplary character of one person and to the normative models or orders revealed or ordained by him” (Weber 1947, p. 328). Elsewhere in his analysis, Weber also describes a rational legitimacy of value that exists “by virtue of a rational belief in its absolute value” (Weber 1947, p. 130). Barker argues that the rationality of value should be included as the fourth type of legitimacy (Barker 1990, 49). The army is therefore a classic example of rational and legal authority. It is centrally organized, highly knowledge-based and hierarchically structured. Rulers do not derive their authority from tradition (e.g. monarchies or social castes), but from their position within a rational and legal framework.
This makes rational legal authority more resistant to corruption and abuse, as decision-makers can be held accountable for impersonal laws rather than their own self-interest. Weber wrote that the modern state, based on rational and legal authority, emerged from the unique patrimonial and feudal power struggle in Western civilization. The prerequisites for the modern Western state are the monopoly of a central authority on the means of administration and control; the monopoly of legislative power; and the organization of the civil service, according to the central authority. Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, has made waves around the world and delivered powerful and moving speeches on climate change. What started as a protest led to speeches in forums such as the UN and the World Economic Forum. Although she does not occupy a formal position of authority, she influences change by being a leader with whom others can identify, to the point that hundreds of thousands of children are now demanding radical changes in climate policy. Not all authority figures are police officers, elected officials or government agencies. In addition to formal functions, authority can derive from tradition and personal qualities. Max Weber, one of the key figures in sociology, recognized this when he examined individual actions in relation to authority as well as large-scale authority structures and their relationship to the economy of a society. Based on this work, Weber developed a system for classifying authority.
Its three types of authority are traditional authority, charismatic authority and legal-rational authority (Weber 1922). Of course, ideals are rarely replicated in the real world. Few governments or leaders can be accurately categorized. Some leaders, such as Mohandas Gandhi, can be considered charismatic and legal-rational authority figures. Similarly, a leader or government may begin by illustrating one type of authority and gradually evolve or move to another type. This is not uncommon – charismatic leaders often enter rational and legal institutions of authority, and it is their charisma that facilitates their election. Similarly, a person in a position of rational and legal authority gains notoriety, which can allow them to be charismatic leaders after leaving formal positions of authority. An important feature of Weber`s definition of a modern state was that it is a bureaucracy. Those who follow the Weberian tradition have continued to emphasize the importance of legitimacy and have refined it as an empirical tool.
David Beetham sought to reformulate Weber`s description of legitimacy while maintaining his role at the center of social science research. The problem with Weber`s definition of legitimacy, Beetham argues, is that Weber fused faith and legitimacy. “A given balance of power,” he writes, “is legitimate not because people believe in its legitimacy, but because it can be justified according to their beliefs” (Beetham 1991, p. 11). Therefore, Beetham argues, we can analyze the legitimacy of power on the basis of three criteria. Power can be qualified as legitimate to the extent that (a) it conforms to established rules, (b) rules can be justified by reference to beliefs shared by dominant and subordinate actors, and (c) there is evidence of the subordinate`s agreement with the respective power relationship. Conversely, a violation of rules leads to illegitimacy, a mismatch between rules and favorable beliefs, or the absence of common beliefs leads to a lack of legitimacy, and a revocation of consent leads to delegitimization. (Beetham 1991, pp.
18-20). Beetham argues that legitimacy, by helping to promote compliance and collaboration, can improve the order, stability, and effectiveness of regimes (Beetham 1991, p. 35). The rational-legal model contrasts with other forms of government, such as those based on tradition or personal charisma. In a rational and legal system, the legitimacy of authority derives from the law itself, not from the personality or character of those who apply it. Each level of government has its own bureaucracy with public servants who are experts in their field and make decisions based on rational and legal authority. The vast majority of modern states from the 20th century onwards fall into the category of rational and legal authority. Then there is the question of representations and the different forms of representation. Well, there`s — again, representations can be democratic, but they`re not necessarily that democratic.