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Max Weber's ideal types of patrimonialism, sultanism, and bureaucracy: An assessment of their accuracy and utility in the case of rulership relationships in the Ottoman EmpireIbrahim Mazman
This study evaluates the usefulness in respect to an empirical case of three ideal types in Max Weber's sociology of rulership (Herrschaft ): patrimonialism, sultanism, and bureaucracy. Through an investigation of major features of rulership relationships in the Ottoman Empire (1299–1918), the heuristic utility of Weber's ideal types accurately to conceptualize and define a particular case is assessed. In his analysis of the Ottoman Empire, Weber emphasized that patrimonial, even sultanic, rulership relationships, in which the absolute power of sultans remained unrestrained by juridical limitations, prevailed. This study maintains that the Empire, founded on specific bureaucratic legacies of the Eastern Roman Empire, regulated ruler-ruled relationships through legal statute. The Kanûnnâmes proclamations from the mid-fifteenth century were the first statutes to do so; they endowed Ottoman subjects with legal rights and an independent juridical status. In endowing legal rights and juridical status to subjects, these proclamations also erected a rule-governed justice system. However, this “bureaucratization” did not carry over, as some authors have argued, fully into the Ottoman administration. Rather, the Ottoman bureaucracy retained patrimonial features; indeed it did so even in the period of Ottoman modernization (1856–1908). Loyalty to the Ottoman Palace hindered bureaucratization in this arena. Hence, bureaucratic aspects of the Ottoman Empire's juridical system stood in conflict with patrimonial features apparent in the Ottoman rulership bureaucracy. This conflict was pivotal, and defined the Ottoman Empire throughout its long history. Max Weber's three ideal types assist conceptualization of the uniqueness of rulership relationships in Ottoman history throughout the 500-year period under investigation in this dissertation. Moreover, as heuristic developmental models, they have enabled a clear isolation and definition of the particularly Ottoman—as opposed to the Western—historical pathway. This conclusion regarding their utility must stand despite Weber's underestimation, as demonstrated here in detail, of the influence upon the Empire of a variety of bureaucratic legacies deriving from the Eastern Roman Empire. These legacies grounded an institutional definition of the state and demarcated legal rights and independent juridical status for Ottoman subjects.
Social sciences; Bureaucracy; Ottoman Empire; Patrimonialism; Rulership; Sultanism; Weber, Max; Social structure; Social research; 0700:Social structure; 0344:Social research
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