Sample Sociology Essays on The Rational Society

Rationalization is a concept created by Max Weber and Herbert Marcuse outlining the nature of societies, and how people are concerned with efficiency, predictability, calculability and dehumanization. These processes imply that society is interested in achieving maximum output with minimum effort and the desire to predict future events. Besides, society is concerned with numerical data used to make decisions and prefer the use of technology to control human behavior. Weber and Marcuse assert that rationalization is a product of scientific examination and technological development in the Western world. Therefore, the concept has changed the society because people are slowly abandoning traditional practices, beliefs and values, to adopt new practices. As a result, the society prefers behaviors anchored on reason and practicality at the expense of traditional behaviors supported by customs and beliefs. Notably, rationalization has created the concept of bureaucracy and continues to influence broad array of aspects of society.  Bureaucratic rationalism and technological rationalism have encouraged workers to make rational decisions using rigid policies, and led to loss of dignity arising from technology use.

Weber describes that typical bureaucracy emerged as a result of consistent growth in population in search of service, complexity of accomplishing organizational tasks, and the existence of monetary system dictating efficient management. Thus, Weber’s ideal bureaucracy consists of hierarchical structure within companies, clear lines of authority, actions taken within rules, and rules implemented by neutral officials (Merz, 2011). Weber’s view on bureaucracy concurs with class readings outlining that the concept of bureaucracy is common in public and private organizations that practice rationalism. Bureaucratic rationalism is the practice of bureaucrats making decisions in organizations or society using certain rules that can either have positive or negative consequences. However, when making such decisions, these individuals fail to examine the consequences they likely to have on the development of societies. In my view, the concerns arising from Weber’s bureaucratic rationalism are valid and warranted.

Based on my experience with bureaucratic organizations I have discovered that rational-decision is made in accordance with prevailing laws, vision, and missions. However, I witnessed employees make wrong decisions because of the lack of rules to guide them. I believe that it is impossible to have rules to guide all decision-making because of uniqueness and complexity of certain societal issues. However, the concern arising in society is because decision made by lower level officials can be overturned by the higher authorities. These experiences are parallel with my own daily routines that are not bureaucratic. In my case, decisions relating to activities like bathing, eating, socializing cannot be overturned by a third party. My view is therefore different with information presented in the reading materials. The information in reading materials affirm that leaders vested with authority and power can overrule decisions made by other people. Furthermore, I find it worrying when bureaucrats fail to exert independent decisions touching on people because they do not have considerable powers or because the policies are too ambiguous. The inability to make decisions independently is one of the reasons organizations fail to achieve their strategic goals because it obligates employees to provide services to people by applying rigid policies evenly, which can be overwhelming (Clegg, Martin and Harro 2011). I have witnessed people abandon their duties because they feel undermined. For example, a client may pursue services using incomplete paperwork and appear confused and agitated if he or she is denied services. In typical bureaucratic institution, such a client will be turned away for lack of requisite documentation to warrant service provision. Hence, bureaucratic rationalism is a major concern in modern society. Unlike in traditional society where decisions were made based on customs and prevailing conditions, rationalism has promoted rigid decision-making based on policies and regulations that in most cases have negative consequences.

Herbert Marcuse is alarmed by the social implications of modern technology to individual members of society. According to Marcuse, technology goes beyond the technical equipment seen in organizations and encompasses social processes of transformation where people are involved (Marcuse 2013).  Thus, Marcuse is unwary about the potential impacts of bureaucratic rationalism but is worried about technological rationalism due to its dominative nature and subjective reasoning. Thus, rationalized societies are quickly adopting new work methods in what is often described as technical competence by bureaucrats. The rationalization culture is slowly consuming societies. Today, even the small businesses have embraced the use of personal computers, internet, and social networking sites to accomplish daily routines. In my opinion, Marcuse is justified to worry about the impact of technological rationalization. I have witnessed business activities halted because of technology failure. In addition, bureaucrats will be quick to deny a customer certain services because his or her details are not captured in a system.

Marcuse’s views with regard to technical rationalism concur with class readings on technical advantages of a bureaucratic organization. Technology transforms individuals and erodes dignity as they fully depend on technology apparatus to make decisions and solve societal problems. As presented in the reading materials, technology equipment supersedes individuals due to their precision, speed, unambiguity, extensive knowledge of files, continuity, discretion, strict subordination, and reduction in operation costs. Though, the use of technology is accompanied with negative consequences as revealed by Marcuse.


Unlike in Weber’s bureaucratic rationalism, technological rationalism surpasses the mentioned factors because it addresses issues to do with ambiguity or lack of clear rules to support rational decisions. In my view, technological rationalism is often motivated by the need for workers to improve their efficiency. However, there are concerns that technology is taking over and dominating people thereby impeding development in society. Marcuse is wary of the negative consequences of technological rationalism because the autonomy of workers is erased not by force but through identification with technology equipment and techniques of use. For instance, computer and internet use is slowly rendering workers useless to a point where they cannot offer services if the device is off or when an internet connection is not working. Nevertheless, Marcuse’s views are not parallel with my life activities because I find it is difficult to do without a Smartphone and internet connection for extended periods. Most of my daily life activities rely on technology and the innovation they provide. Though, am aware that Marcuse is concerned with the fate of individuals whose dignity is affected by consistent use of technology.

Weber and Marcuse have reservations on rigid and inflexible structures of bureaucratic organizations and the loss of dignity and power as a result of technology usage. The concerns of both Weber and Marcuse are warranted because bureaucratic rationalism encourages workers to make rational decision without considering its implications on the development of society.  Furthermore, Marcuse points out how technology is erasing the dignity of workers who are heavily depended on modern equipment and work methods. Based on the discussions presented, I believe bureaucracy has considerably compromised societal structures of domination and affected decision-making.


Clegg, Stewart, Martin Harris, and Harro Höpfl. 2011. Managing modernity: Beyond

 bureaucracy? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marcuse, Herbert. 2013. Reason and revolution. London: Routledge.

Merz, Felix. 2011. Max Weber’s theory of bureaucracy and its negative consequences. Grin

Verlag Ohg.