Looking for a good book on the history of bureaucracy
April 20, 2006 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good book on the history of bureaucracy, care to recommend some?

Recently I started working for a government agency and have become fascinated with various features of my work, for instance the mechanics of record-keeping, and I'm now curious about their historical background and development. Is there a good history of bureaucracy out there somewhere? While I recognize that this may not set all hearts aflutter surely someone out there has written an accessible book on the subject.
posted by Kattullus to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This may be broader than you're looking for, but Max Weber is pretty much the go-to guy for stuff on the development of bureaucracies.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 2:55 PM on April 20, 2006

Best answer: Bureaucracy: Three Paradigms, edited by Neil Garston

The History of Government from the Earliest Times (5 vol.), by S.E. Finer (Vol. 2, Vol. 3)

Bureaucracy: What Goverment Agencies Do and Why They Do It, by James Q Wilson

more specialized, but perhaps of interest:
Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World, edited by Jane Caplan and John Torpey
posted by languagehat at 5:06 PM on April 20, 2006

Seconding Espy Gillespie's recommendation. More specifically, see Chapter 11 of Weber's Economy and Society, titled "Bureaucracy." Also, see his Politics as a Vocation.

As far as specifics of record-keeping/accounting, Capitalism and Arithmetic might be helpful.
posted by slow, man at 5:08 PM on April 20, 2006

Seconding James Q Wilson's book! It will not put you to sleep, which is really saying something on this topic.
posted by jaysus chris at 5:42 PM on April 20, 2006

Oh my gawd I have been meaning to ask this question! I feel less alone in this moment, knowing that there are other people who care about the history of bureaucracy.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:42 PM on April 20, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you all. And croutonsupafreak, I feel less alone knowing that someone else wanted to ask this question

Metafilter: Feeling Less Alone

posted by Kattullus at 11:02 PM on April 20, 2006

Two period specific ones:

Ruling the Later Roman Empire by Chris Kelly (terrific)

The State's Servant's: The Civil Service of the English Republic by Gerald Alymer (old but gold)

Also, Whitehall by Peter Hennessy is a terrific history of English bureaucracy.

and yes I am a "bureaucrat" myself...
posted by greycap at 11:36 PM on April 20, 2006

And forgive the misplaced apostrophe in the Aylmer reference...
posted by greycap at 11:36 PM on April 20, 2006

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