POL 695 Miami Gender Institutional Context & Representative Bureaucracy Discussion What is representative bureaucracy?
What are active and passive representation (200 words)?
Provide an example of where you have witnessed passive and active representative bureaucracy within your professional life (100 words).
What are the outputs or outcomes of this witnessed representation in your professional life (100 words)?
Lipstick and Logarithms: Gender, Institutional Context, and Representative Bureaucracy
American Political Science Review, 96(3), 553564. .
Keiser, L. R., Wilkins, V. M., Meier, K. J., & Holland, C. A. (2002).
Representative Bureaucracy: Classic Readings and Continuing Controversies
Chapters 1 and 2. .
Dolan, J., & Rosenbloom, D. H. (2003). Representative
The Early Years
The concept arises out of the UK. There is remarkable agreement about whom
to credit the discovery of representative bureaucracy. In 1944, J. Donald
Kingsley coined the term representative government in a study of British civil
Observing gender and class distinctions within the British civil service, Kingsley
noted that as British society became middle-class, its civil service should also
become inhabited by the middle-class. This was a radical idea at that time as
civil servant careers were more upper-class vocations.
Unlike later research that normatively explores both gender and ethnic
representation within the civil service, Kingsleys argument was simple: argued
that representational participation should lead to functional effectiveness
of the civil service (Kingsley, 1944). Nevertheless, Kingsleys observations
launched a field of inquiry into representative bureaucracy.
Coming to America
Dwight Waldos 1948 discipline-changing argument that there was no dichotomy
between politics and administration implied that civil servants are political
As one modern-day author wrote, If bureaucracy were always neutral in its values,
always obeyed elected superiors, and always limited its activities to the
enforcement of public laws and rules, then most controversies surrounding
bureaucracy would melt away (Jreisat, 2002, 37).
This departure from the earlier public administration orthodoxy made it possible for
public administration scholars to consider that the sociopolitical appearance of civil
servants also mattered.
Civil servants perform inherently political tasks and discretion is utilized in the
performance of the tasks. If representativeness matters, then this implies an
agreement that civil servants are not apolitical actors.
If representative bureaucracy is encouraged, it follows that the policies bureaucrats
help design and implement may better reflect the citizenry they serve. Thus, if we
wish to better understand the discretionary outputs of civil servants we should
study the sociopolitical and socioeconomic characteristics of those who fill their
Which set of bureaucrats
By the 1950s and 1960s public administration scholars began to
normatively argue that it mattered which set of bureaucrats
controlled the policy process (Lipset, 1950).
Bureaucratic representativeness was pertinent since it provide[d] a
means of fostering equity in the policy process by helping to ensure
that all interests are represented in the formulation and
implementation of policies and programs (Coleman, Brudney, and
Kellough, 1998, 719).
Over time, scholars would find that representative bureaucracy could
increase government legitimacy, accountability, effectiveness, and
participation (Dolan and Rosenbloom, 2003).
Passive and Active
Representative bureaucracy scholars ask when do ones passivelyrepresented traits become actively represented?
Example Using Gender
In gender studies, passive representation occurs when the number of
female civil servants mirrors the ratio of employment-age women within
Active representation occurs when female civil servants use their position
to affect policy options favorable to women (Keiser, Wilkins, Meier, and
Holland, 2002; Mosher, 1968; Nachmias and Rosenbloom, 1973).
Other traits that may be represented as a passive trait with potential
active representation include ethnicity, social class, geographic origin,
disability, sexual orientation, religion, rural/urban, among others.
Passive to Active
In the 1970s, passive representative bureaucracy literature frequently looked at the political and
economic backgrounds of civil servants. The dependent variable was the transformation of passive
into active representation.
Using individual or agency-level data, scholars have explored independent variables such as
age of civil servant
ethnicity of civil servant
previous civil service employment
political views or political activity of civil servant
hours worked by civil servant
regulatory and redistributive functions of agencies
work habits, gender of mentor, organizational factors
Their focus was on whether or not those variables, if passively represented in a person or agency,
might lead to active representation of that trait in civil servant work, analysis, and efforts. The
evidence is mixed.
Representation is for one early author, a relationship of rights and
responsibilities (Pitkin, 1972, 19), ultimately for civil servants a
relationship toward those they serve.
While few would argue that a civil service representative of the gender,
religious or ethnic differences of the citizenry is an unworthy objective,
disagreements exist about if and when these civil servants should become
active representatives of their sociopolitical trait(s).
It has been argued that a passive representation of women can affect the
public organization, but that it need not lead to active representation
(Hindera, 1993; Selden, 1997).
Others hypothesized that what mattered was not which societal group the
bureaucracy represented but that what was important was the power of
the agency itself, as an entity, to influence policy outcomes favorable to the
groups represented in society (Romzek and Hendricks, 1982).
Civil servants are not elected. But
? How much space should we give civil servants to influence policy and administration?
? Do civil servants not operate with the rule of law? Must the law not be respected, first?
? Should this law then prevent civil servants from stating their opinion? Or even acting upon
? Is there a difference between small p politics and big P Politics? Or does it depend on the
? Is the exercise of professional discretion or education also an act of influence or small p
? What about this phrase: Our lives being to end the day we become silent about things that
matter (Martin Luther King).
? Is this phrase true? Or are there limits to this expression for civil servants? What if the elected leader has
authoritarian tendencies? Or desires a silencing of civil servants?
Coleman, S., Brudney, J. L., & Kellough, J. E. (1998). Bureaucracy as a representative institution: Toward a reconciliation of bureaucratic government and
democratic theory. American Journal of Political Science, 717-744.
Dolan, J., Rosenbloom, D.H. (Ed.) (2003). Representative Bureaucracy: Classic Readings and Continuing Controversies. Armonk NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Hindera, J.J. (1993). Representative Bureaucracy: Further Evidence of Active Representation in the EEOC District Offices. Journal of Public Administration
Research and Theory, 3(4), 415-429.
Jreisat, J.E. (2002). Comparative Administration and Policy: Westview Press.
Keiser, L. R., Wilkins, V. M., Meier, K. J., & Holland, C. A. (2002). Lipstick and logarithms: Gender, institutional context, and representative bureaucracy. American
political science review, 96(3), 553-564.
King, M.L. (1965). Speech given by Martin Luther King, 8 March.
Kingsley, J.D. (1944). Representative Bureaucracy: An Interpretation of the British Civil Services. Yellow Springs OH: Antioch Press.
Lipset, S.M. (1950). Bureaucracy and Social Change Agrarian Socialism (pp. 267-275). Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Meier, K. J., & Nigro, L. G. (1976). Representative bureaucracy and policy preferences: A study in the attitudes of federal executives. Public Administration
Review, 36(4), 458-469.
Mosher, F.C. (1968). Democracy and the Public Service (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Nachmias, D., Rosenbloom, D.H. (1973). Measuring Bureaucratic Representation and Integration. Public Administration Review, 590-597.
Pitkin, H. F. (1972). The Concept of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Romzek, B. S., & Hendricks, J. S. (1982). Organizational Involvement and Representative Bureaucracy: Can We Have It Both Ways?. American Political Science
Review, 76(1), 75-82.
Selden, S. C. (1997). The Promise of Representative Bureaucracy: Diversity and Responsiveness in a Government Agency. Atmonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
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