PAGE IN PROGRESS What you see here is a page of my hypertext book POWER of meanings // MEANINGS of power. Initially empty, this page will slowly be filled with thoughts, notes, and quotes. One day, I will use them to write a coherent entry, similar to these completed pages. See this post to better understand my creative process. Thank you for your interest and patience!
Bureaucracy is an example of macropower (collective power)
The dictionary definition of bureaucracy is "a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives". See film Brazil by Terry Gilliam for a portrayal of dystopian bureaucratic state. Here is a short clip from the movie showing Ministry of Information.
(If you consider watching this movie, be warned that, despite the seeming cheerfulness of the clip below, the film gets quite dark.)
But bureaucracy has a different more common meaning, as in a sentence: "I had to fight with bureaucracy when I was trying to get a Social Security Number". In this sense, bureaucracy is an aspect of any institution or a system that is created to make things more efficient but becomes, ironically, too inefficient while striving for maximum efficiency.
This webpage lists such examples of bureaucracy as universities, the police force, DMV (in the USA), health insurance system, postal service, tax system, the military, and more.
Police force bureaucracy: see season 1 of TV show The Wire for a portrayal.
For the purpose of understanding macropower, we can define bureaucracy as a system that is created by people in order to make things easier but that gets too unwieldy for a single person to understand, navigate, or handle. If we understand bureaucracy as a form of macropower, this make it in some way easier to deal with it. For example, it is not uncommon for people to lose patience while dealing with bureaucracy. A person who needs to get something from a bureaucratic system can get frustrated about specific people within this system that she is interacting with. When we understand that these people do not have the power over the system they are a part of, we might become kinder and more thoughtful in our interactions with them.
Because I am working on this project on power, I see my interactions with various bureaucratic systems as enlightening rather than aggravating (I do get frustrated sometimes, but not as much as before). Some examples of my interactions with bureaucratic systems (BS) include: - trying to get a refund from DHL (I spent an hour on the phone explaining the situation to different people and they were connecting me to different departments but nobody knew what to do; features or BS include: people within it do not fully understand how the system works; people within it do not care about the result because they feel disconnected from each other and from the result of their actions) - applying for British visa in 2022 - applying for French citizenship
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