In The Types of Legitimate Domination, Weber claims there are three ideal-types of basis for legitimate authority: rational/legal, traditional, and charismatic. Rational/legal is legal authority that comes from rules such as police officers, senators, etc. Traditional is authority that comes from traditions and the belief in the sanctity of “the way it has been done before” such as priests, queens, etc.
The final type of power is charismatic which is power that is based on the exceptional character of an individual such as Martin Luther King Jr. actors, etc. Throughout this article, Weber tries to establish what “dominance” is and what the “basis of legitimacy” is. He defines dominance as the probability commands will be obeyed. Weber argues that domination requires there to be a social structure. He continues to say that while there are many reasons why people obey (custom, pay, ideals, etc. ), everything about the social organization of domination depends on a “basis of legitimacy”. An example of a basis of legitimacy is what Weber defines as usage, when people develop uniform types of conduct.
Long establish usages become customs. From this idea of legitimate domination came the three ideal-types of legitimate authority. One of the major strengths of Weber’s article is the defining of dominance as well as explaining the “basis of legitimacy”. Many people follow commands without understanding why they are doing so. The basis of legitimacy helps us understand why people follow commands in situations where it may not be obvious. For example, why do we follow the commands of our parents? We follow the commands of our parents because their authority comes from traditions.
It is expected that we follow the command of our parents because “that is the way it always has been”. With the rational/legal basis of legitimacy, the reasons why we follow their commands is more obvious (rules and regulations). Classifying where people’s authority comes from facilitates understanding of what exactly domination is and why people allow themselves to be dominated. That is why the ideas of the types of legitimate authority is a strength. While the three types of legitimate authority is a strength, it is also a weakness.
It is a weakness because not all types of authority fall directly into the different categories (meaning not all types of authority are an ideal type). Weber fails to take into account that a person’s authority can came from more than one “basis of legitimacy”. An example of a person with authority that does not fit perfectly into one category is Princess Diana. The obvious category she would be classified in is traditional authority because she was royalty and her authority came from British traditions. However, it can be argued she had charismatic power as well.
She was very loved by British citizens and therefore her authority came not only from traditions but also from her exceptional character. This article has very relevant ties today and to my own life. Authority exists all around us. Our parents, teachers, bosses, political leaders, religious people etc. all hold some sort of authority over us. Understanding where there authority comes from helps us understand why we follow their commands. For example, from this article I have come to understand that my boss not only has rational/legal authority but also charismatic authority.
She gets her rational/legal authority from the position she holds and she gets her charismatic authority from her excellent character. I would argue that I follow her commands more so because of her charismatic authority than her rational/legal authority. Her excellent character makes me want to do as she asks rather than just doing it because I am told and that is why I am being paid. I think where a person’s authority comes from influences how readily their commands are obeyed and what kind of dominance they have.