Bureaucracy, Collegiality and Social Change
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Bureaucracy, Collegiality and Social Change

Redefining Organizations with Multilevel Relational Infrastructures

Emmanuel Lazega

This insightful book theorizes the contrast between two logics of organization: bureaucracy and collegiality. Based on this theory and employing a new methodology to transform our sociological understanding, Emmanuel Lazega sheds light on complex organizational phenomena that impact markets, political economy, social networks and social stratification.
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Chapter 6: Inside-out collegiality: new bureaucratic parameterizations of commons through digitalization

Emmanuel Lazega


In contemporary societies, elite self-segregation and socioeconomic inequalities increase with the development of a new kind of bureaucratization of society based on digitalization. This technological change redefines the classical, Weberian link between efficiency and social control by extending the scope of routinization to creative activities. It produces a new stratigraphic organizational combination – “inside-out collegiality” – illustrated here with the use of the multilayer “swarm template” by the military. This trend allows, for example, hegemonic platforms owning and exploiting “big relational data”, to identify and neutralize collegial pockets with oppositional solidarity within and across organizations, to activate or undermine more efficiently multilevel relational infrastructures to steer innovation and institutional entrepreneurship in convenient directions, and eventually to redefine politics in society at large. Platform bureaucracy and new organizational transformation could thus be used to reify multilayer dynamics, to impose totalitarian forms of collective responsibility in all embedded commons, for example in the name of security and adaptation to the current transitions (migratory, climate related, etc.). Promoting unobtrusively this form of multilevel organized collective agency threatens to shape social changes not only by stifling innovation but also without democratic deliberation and accountability.

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