Routinization of Charisma Essay

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The routinization of charisma relates to Max Weber’s (1968: 212—54) typology of pure types of legitimate, social power (reinen Typen legitimer Herrschaft) (Weber 1956: 122—5; 1968: 212—7). Charisma stems from ”an exceptional [aufieralltaglich] (originally attributed to prophets, people with healing or legal knowledge, great hunters or war heroes: as magically instilled), valued quality” endowing a person with ”supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional — not those normally found — powers and qualities that are divine gifts [gottgesandt] or exemplary [vorbildlich] and thus valued in a leader [Fiihrer]” (Weber 1956:140; 1968:241). Attributed to various persons, charisma exists among those ”conventionally assessed as ”the ‘greatest heroes, prophets, and saviours”(Weber 1956:140; 1968:241).

Charismatic power creates ”an emotion-based communalization [Vergemeinschaftung];” there are no officials, staff, formal rules or abstract legal principles — ”duty to the leader binds people, creating legitimate order (Weber 1956: 141; 1968: 243). Opposing the existing order, charismatic leaders can foment revolutionary change.

Rooted in individuals perceived powers and qualities, charismatic power is unstable. Stability requires a routine — routinized — solution to succession which is achieved through traditionalization, rationalization, or a combination. For example, succession may require finding another charismatic leader; the original leader or community may designate a successor possessing specific qualities; an hereditary link between leader and an heir may be claimed and ultimately routinized; succession might entail a traditionalized confirmation by ordeal. Routinization reduces disciples emotion-based duty obligations, establishing a more regularized life.

Bibliography:

  1. Weber, M. (1956) Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss der Verstehenden Soziologie (Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology), 2 vols., ed. J. Winckelmann. J. C. B. Mohr, Tubingen.
  2. Weber, M. (1968) Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, 3 vols., ed. G. Roth & C. Wittich, trans. E. Fischoff, H. Gerth, et al. Bedminster Press, New York.

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