What are the types of Authority according to Weber?

In Weber’s view authority is a power that people perceive as legitimate rather than coercive. There are three types of authority according to Weber.

1. Traditional Authority

This type of authority emanates from customary laws and is sanctify by ancient traditions. Indonesia’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn for example occupies a position that he has inherited traditionally by succession. In Ritter’s words traditional authority is grounded in the claim by the leaders and a belief on the part of the followers that there is virtue in the sanctity of age old rules and powers. In traditional authority the subordinates accept the traditional rights of the powerful individuals or groups for instance religious leaders, spiritual guru, family and patriarch. Traditional authority is mostly supported by culture for instance symbols such as cross, crescent moon or flag and by structures and institutions. It is believed that traditional authority hinders social change and is likely to be irrational and inconsistent and maintains status quo.

2. Rational Legal Authority

In this type of authority the power originates from a formalistic belief in the content of both legal law and rational. The followers do not obey to any specific individual but adhere to a set of uniforms norms for instance bureaucracy. The individual who exercise this type of authority have qualifications that are prescribed and codified. For instance people obey traffic police because he exercise authority due to his position bestowed to him by law. The rational legal authority is present in modern state, corporations and other voluntary organizations. In Weber’s opinion development of modern state is undistinguishable with that of modern officialdom and bureaucratic organizations just as the development of modern capitalism is associated with bureaucratization of economic enterprise. However, no authority structure can be purely bureaucratic there would be some elements of charisma present in bureaucratic structure.

3. Charismatic Authority

This type of authority is based on perceived extraordinary characteristics of a leader. The followers are extremely devoted to the charismatic leaders and adhere to the way of life preached by such leaders. They believe that the leader has some supernatural power. As long as the leaders continue to prove their magical power, they enjoy authority and they are worshipped by their believers. To continue charismatic authority it has to be transformed into legal or traditional form of authority. Thus charismatic authority rest on the personal charisma of the leader who enjoys power due to his personality and personal traits for instance Dr. B.R Ambedkar, Indira Gandhi and Aung San SuuKyi.

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