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Charisma, Routinization of

Ray Gordon

Subject Sociology » Sociology of Religion

People Weber, Max

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Weber (1978 : 241) notes that those attributed charismatic authority are considered “extraordinary and endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities … regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them [qualities] the individual concerned is treated as a leader.” In this sense, the social relationships directly involved with charismatic authority are strictly personal and irrational in character. Weber points out, however, that if these relationships are not to remain a transitory phenomenon, they and the charismatic authority they are involved with “cannot remain stable; they will become either traditionalized or rationalized, or a combination of both” (p. 246). What Weber means is that, over time, either a bureaucracy vested with rational legal authority will supersede the charismatic leader or institutionalized structures will incorporate the charismatic impetus. This rationalization or institutionalization process is what Weber refers to as the routinization of charisma. Weber discusses a number of social forces that contribute to the routinization of charisma. He argues that it is only in the initial stages of a charismatic leader's reign that members of his or her community will live on the basis of “faith and enthusiasm, on gifts, booty, or sporadic acquisition” (p. 249). In contrast to the irrational and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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