School as a social organization and its bereaucratic interpretation
2. Course No
Name of the Assignment
School as a Social organization and its Bureaucratic interpretation
Professor Dr.Hedayet Hossain
Institute of education and research
University of Dhaka
Md.Rokon –ud- Dolla
In recent years a good deal of the very best sociological work has been devoted to the study of organization. Although the term, organization, belongs to the category of expressions about which there is maintained an air of informed vagueness, certain special conventions exist that focus its use, with qualifications, on a delimited set of phenomena. In accordance with these conventions, the term applies correctly to stable associations of persons engaged in concerted activities directed to the attainment of specific objectives. It is thought to be a decisive characteristic of such organizations that they are deliberately instituted relative to these objectives. Because organizations, in this sense, are implementing and implemented programs of action that involve a substantial dose of comprehensive and rational planning, they are identified as instances of formal or rational organization in order to differentiate them from other forms. Sociologists go about distinguishing the facts of formal organization from the facts of informal organization? There seem to be two things that matter in the ways this distinction is drawn. There is, in the first place, a certain scholarly tradition in which the distinction is rooted.
Philosophy of Social organization
As social being we have to live in a society, and one important thing is that we live in a civilized society .In a restricted sense we all live in a restricted society of organizations, but this restrictions allows us to mitigate our needs and live in a society of sacrifice so that everyone is about to meet there needs in a stringent way that everyone is able to meet with their needs. And this highness of grace is blessed to us so that we can all live in a civilized society in a peaceful way .our society in associated with innumerable organizations. The modern society got their character with the help of organization. The civilized society is characterized by a large number of organizations. So, in a sense we all are surrounded by a large number of organization and living in a society of
4. organization. We not only live in a organizational society but also we belong to these societies as they fulfil our aspirations to live and belong to the society that we live in through organizations.
Definition of Social Organization
Ogburn and Nimkoff have defined organization is an articulation of different parts which perform various functions; it is an active group device for getting something done.
Eliott and Merrill says, organization is a state of being, a condition in which the various institutions in a society are functioning in accordance with their recognized or implied purposes.
According to H.M Johnson, organization refers to an aspect of interaction systems.
At present the term social organization is used to refer to the interdependence of parts in groups. These groups may vary in size and nature from workers to the factories. Many sociologists prefer to use the term social system to refer to the society as such rather than social organization.
The term is used in sociological studies and researches today to stress the importance of arrangement of parts in which the parts of society are related to each other and how each is related to the whole society. Organization makes possible the complex activities in which the members of a complex society participate. A small body of organized police can control a very large crowd. A small number of men constituting themselves as a government can rule a country.
Sometimes the word organization is used to refer to the associational groups. It includes corporations, armies, schools, banks and prisons. The society consists of many such organizations. A state is frequently called a political organization. A school may represent an educational organization and so on. They are all social organizations. According to Ogburn and Nimkoff entire society represents a wider organization; a social organization. But society is also quite generally an organized group of interacting individuals.
5. Bureaucracy in social organizational system
A. The Development of Formal Social Structure: Division of Labor
The impact of social structure is great indeed! Durkheim, in his epic work, The Division of Labor in Society (1983) maintained "as society becomes larger and more complex, there is a vast increase in the interdependence among its members as the labor needed to feed, house, educate, communicate with, transport, care for, and defend them becomes more complex" (in Kornblum, 1988:160). Durkheim argued that the increasing complexity was an advantage for any society because it gave the members of society more choice and, therefore, more freedom.
Much of Durkheim's work centers on social organization. Social organization means, on one hand, that the individual has to give up a certain amount of individual freedom. On the other hand, people are not overly concerned about losing that freedom. By the time they are a part of an organization, organizations have socialized them to accept the rules and goals of the organization as their own. Individuals ultimately offer a great amount of respect to organizations. People define themselves through the organizations to which they belong.
B. Freedom from a Durkheimian Point of View
Durkheim raised the point that the freedom an individual experiences depends on the level of social organization (order). Imagine a condition where no reliable organization exists. Without organization a state of anarchy would prevail. Individuals would lose the safety provided by organization and would thus lose their freedom. On the other hand, too much organization, like that found in fascist states, likewise places extreme limits on the freedom of individuals. With the latter, the individual can experience too much order.
No system of organization is perfect with respect to guaranteeing freedom. Democracy may facilitate human freedom and emancipation, but freedom does not automatically flow from democracy. American style democracy, for example, confronts one with what Tocqueville called the "tyranny of the majority." In a democracy, once the voting is over, the minority (those who lost the vote) must abide by the decision of the majority. (Ex: The debate concerning abortion issues highlights this kind of dilemma). Despite the problematic aspects of democracy, it appears that a moderate amount of organization is most desirable.
Another freedom-limiting problem associated with developing social structure revolves around the possibility that so many choices may overwhelm the. Furthermore, as the division of labor becomes complex, certain groups find themselves with greater or lesser access to the higher levels of the system. Inequality becomes institutionalized.
6. C. General Features Associated with Developing Social Structure
1. As society becomes more complex, the social structure becomes increasingly formal. Positions within structure become more clearly defined, often in writing.
2. Categories within the organization become more differentiated. Jobs become specialized and a greater variety of jobs are the result. There is also an increase in "vertical differentiation." In other words, there are more layers across which an individual can advance.
3. Power within the structure becomes increasingly centralized. Initially organizational business, such as problem control and policy implementation happened informally. As organization becomes more complex, policy becomes explicitly stated that covers all situations that might arise.
D. A Weberian Analysis of Bureaucracy
Max Weber is renowned for his analysis of bureaucracies. He interprets the features that evolve within social structure as an attempt to make organizations more rational. Weber contends that as social structure becomes more complex, people turn away from policies based on tradition, customs, emotions, and personal values to policies based on efficiency and rationality.
Rationalism refers to the careful calculation of practical results. Calculated rules and procedures characterize bureaucracies. Bureaucracies allow for more efficient decision making. The acceptance of rules, efficiency, and practical results is the right way to approach human affairs.
E. Characteristics of Bureaucracy
The following characteristics represent an ideal picture of well-running bureaucracies .
1. Bureaucracies are a hierarchy of offices. There are always superiors with clearly defined authority. Henslin (1999:171) notes that assignments flow downward and accountability flows upward.
2. Each member has specific tasks to fulfill and all the tasks are coordinated to fulfill the purpose of the organization.
3. Explicit rules govern the offices.
4. Bureaucracies carry all business out in writing.
7. Twentieth Century Bureaucracy of social organization (School):
Principles and Problems
The purpose of education in the end of twentieth century is the same as it has been for the last one hundred years; social conformity. In the late nineteenth century, a bureaucratic system was the proper method of managing a newfound economy and a booming population. It was a methodical system of organizing a large number of people. However the effects of this system has been reprehensible in the twentieth century.
The issue of social reproduction has been especially problematic in a bureaucracy. The problem arises from the purpose of a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were designed to produce a specific product. The bureaucratic system of production was designed to reproduce itself. This is inherent in the definition of production itself. One cannot effectively produce without reproducing the means of production (Althusser, 1972). The structure of production loses support unless the system is designed to reproduce the means necessary to sustain itself. Therefore the notion of social reproduction is inherent to the concept of a system with the goal of production, such as the twentieth century bureaucracy. Since educational bureaucracies were designed after the industrial models, schooling was a means of production as well. Schools were designed to produce a workforce, which was ready to partake in the increasingly complex world of industrialization.
In the late nineteenth century social reproduction was an effective means of successfully implementing a new system of management. Due to the novelty of bureaucracy, the methodology of social reproduction worked well. There was no foundation to the bureaucracy at that time. Therefore having a system to produce (and reproduce) a basis for the new methods of management was beneficial. However the reproduction concept has changed the social structure for the worse in the twentieth century. One of the biggest factors in the failure of bureaucracy was the introduction of race issues into the educational process.
8. These cases of utter social injustice could be explained through the definition of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy, as defined previously, is a stringent system of organization, which allows little variations in the methods of control. There is a strict orderliness. The original design of the American bureaucracy defined the colored persons as inherently inferior. As a result of that arbitrary definition, they have been caste as the lower stratum. This social casting is not easily amended. Once the bureaucratic system is implemented in a certain manner, change is not easily possible. One part of the bureaucracy cannot be changed in hope of rectifying the problem. Change in a bureaucratic system would constitute a complete restructuring. For educational systems (and other large enterprises), restructuring is often not a choice. Therefore if any detrimental aspects are initially introduced into the system, the fault cannot be corrected easily.
This fact is also compounded by the utter carelessness toward the individual in the twentieth century bureaucracy. The national government is not concerned with the well being of people in East St. Louis, Illinois. The national government is concerned with the overall functioning of the state. The overall functioning of the state is currently strong. The economy is growing with suppressed inflation, and the jobless rate is at historical lows. However for the individuals in cities such as East St. Louis, times could not be worse. They are the forgotten factions of society. The wealthiest fraction of society contributes to the incredible boom in the economy. They invest readily and thus reap the benefits of their fortunes. They do not, however, do anything about the clear injustice present in segregated districts. As Kozol puts it best, “dirt and water flow downhill, [but] money and services do not.” (1991 p. 10) Children can feel their lack of importance in society at large. They realize that they are invisible to the American populous. That sense of alienation is a severe detriment to a child’s learning process. The child is constantly confronted by the images of failure, but he instructed to achieve greatness. The child is forced to imagine a better world without any precedent. This task is quite difficult for a student.
9. The solutions offered here are the best offered by this writer. They are the most consistent with my ideology. Others offer solutions, which may have the same end result. But I believe that these solutions reach the most enduring results.
The solutions to the problems presented lay within the restructuring of the bureaucratic system of schooling. This does not have to destroy a bureaucracy. After all, the theory behind the notions of bureaucratic organization is quite appealing. Nonetheless the restructuring of bureaucracy is an inevitable step toward amending pressing problems of schools today. Problems in today’s school systems have roots in the inherent definition of a bureaucracy. An example of such problem is the extreme centralization of schools.
Professional administrators run a centralized school system. They have control of the bureaucracy. They have the authority to administer schooling. For these reasons, the administrators favor a centralized system of schooling. Such system keeps the administrators in power. However, as previously discussed, these individuals do not take the effort to live within the community of their schools. They are not a part of the everyday workings of the community life. This is detrimental to the education of the students. Therefore a systematic method of decentralization would greatly benefit the convergence of schooling and education. A successfully decentralized school district would have a staff composed of community members. These administrators would include the superintendent. There would be a teacher force from the community, which would be welcoming to the student. The student would feel “at home” in school. School would be no longer a place for the exchange of impersonal thoughts. The quality of teachers in a decentralized system would remain constant. A person with inferior teaching skills would not be allowed to teach due to the fact that he is a community member. It is the school board’s duty to determine the worth of these teachers. Therefore, the school board must be composed of community members also. The idea of decentralization is known to be efficient, because it has been implemented before. However, there were problems with the implementation process. This difficulty was demonstrated in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York, in nineteen sixty-eight.
10. The Ocean Hill-Brownsville district in New York was witness to the first implementation of a decentralized system of schooling. The premise of this project was to maximize once again community control over schools. One of the first actions taken was the formation of a People’s Board of Education: a school board made of community members. That task was not easy; it met a great degree of resistance from the professional administrators. Traditionally, the school board is a position of power in a school district. The administrators who sit on school boards have a great deal of power to control policy. This high degree of power was the reason for resistance. The professionals did not want to surrender their power to the people. This phenomenon was also witnessed through teacher resistance. A number of teachers were fired from the district due to their lack of cooperation with the decentralization movement. This was a choice made by the community through their Board of Education. However the resistance in this instance was quite adamant. Severe protests ensued, and thus the decentralized system was disbanded in nineteen sixty-eight. The breakup of the experiment was not a failure by any measure. The effort set a precedent. That precedent showed that a community with proper cooperation would have the chance of decentralizing schooling
A pertinent solution to the problem of social injustice is redefining state ideals. In a capitalistic bureaucracy, it is necessary to redefine the notion of wealth and profit. Material goods are at the heart of the currently defined wealth and profit. Owners of large enterprises are concerned solely with their monetary performance. The stockholders of these companies have the same mentality. The company’s purpose is to produce something profitable, which has a calculable value. This item is then sold and the monetary profits are shared by a select few, who are the richest members of the country. This does not have to be the case. Monetary wealth has been overtly overrated in the past one hundred years. This obsession with profit has been a detriment to the educational process. The definition of prosperity is taught as attaining monetary affluence. A rich person in today’s America is considered prosperous. The goals of education should be intellectual affluence. Money is not the answer to the problems of today’s society. Children should not be taught that the sole purpose of
11. education is eventual monetary success. The purpose of education should be geared toward the benefits of knowledge. Money has not solved world problems yet, and there are no indications that it will. These ideas are portrayed poignantly by Albert Einstein:
I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure individuals is the only thing that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and irresistibly invites abuse. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of Carnegie?
Here Einstein explicitly states that money is not the solution to world problems. He clearly states that the corrupting tendencies of money (greed) dominate the good intentions. The overwhelming urge to use money for personal means, destroys any possibility of good will. That is why the “money-bags of Carnegie” are useless to the humanitarian. The first step toward a social restructuring of the bureaucratic society must be in effective communication of the message of money’s corruptive tendencies.
Another effective method of realigning social goals for education is to increase student involvement in practical learning. Engaging in research is an example of this methodology. The educational value of engaging in empirical research often outweighs the benefits of classroom instruction. Research requires independent thought and decision making. It forces the student to think about problems and solve them through rational means of reasoning. Research also engages students as intellectuals. Students are currently at the bottom levels of the bureaucratic system of schooling. They are not regarded as intellectually endowed. Students are currently thought of as storage units for information (and sometimes knowledge). Research empowers student to be readily engaged in the learning process. It gives the students the confidence necessary to learn effectively (Morrell, 2000).
To end the vicious cycle of social reproduction in schools, as institutions of learning, must be changed first. There is no need to try to change society before the
12. school system. “Society changes when we change children’s education.” (Duncan- Andrade, 2000) Schooling is a central social institution. The changes in the methods of schooling reflect readily upon the rest of the society. Therefore if the methods of schooling are changed, then the society at large follows. This is not a rapid change. However the effort is definitely worthwhile.
The bureaucratic method of school management has had a dichotomous effect on the purpose of schooling. In the late nineteenth century, the system performed its tasks flawlessly. It promoted social conformity in an increasingly complex society. Bureaucracy was an excellent method of organization. However these same qualities have had detrimental effects in the twentieth century. The time for social conformity has long passed. In the innovative world of the twentieth century, there is little room for conformity. As discussed above, change in the ideals of education in accordance with current thought requires redefining the bureaucratic methodology. There is not need to abandon that methodology all together. According to Dr. Perlstein of the Graduate School of Education at University of California, Berkeley, bureaucracy is a necessary part of schools (2000). In the ideal form, bureaucracy is an excellent method of conducting schools. However as it is in place today, there is a great need for adjustments. The most significant realignment of the system is to amend the cruel ways of social reproduction. As seen in Kozol’s work, social reproduction is the pinnacle of cruelty in the schooling of children.
Aggarwal , J.C. (1994) , Educational administration, Management and Supervision,
New Delhi , Arya Book.
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