The Oath, Acclamation, and the Charisma of Office

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This talk starts with two examples of apparently non-modern rituals that are preserved within the modern and liberal-democratic conceptions of Office: that of the oath and the acclamation. Examples of the former concern the recent debates about the moral calling of teachers in the UK, and the moral character of Edward Snowden. Examples of both are found in the inaugural ceremonies of the President of the United States. On an elementary reading of Max Weber, however, charisma is opposed to bureaucracy as ideal types. The first is an “extra-ordinary” gift of grace, irrational and foreign to all rules, while the second is mundane, rational and rule governed. Nevertheless, what might be more germane to our problem are his indications on the transformation of the charismatic mission into bureaucratic authority, common to antiquity and to the modern Western world. Here he describes the “charisma of office” with its strict distinction between office and its incumbent. Is it possible, we might then ask, that the oath and acclamation have more than a merely “symbolic” function in respect to contemporary forms of public Office?
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventThe Second Workshop on the Analysis of Bureaucracy in Society: Perspectives on Bureaucracy in Society - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 1 Dec 20142 Dec 2014
Conference number: 2


WorkshopThe Second Workshop on the Analysis of Bureaucracy in Society

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