"Bureaucratic Encounters"


Internationaler Workshop am 15. - 16. Juni 2018, HS 6, Tiefparterre

(Konzept und Organisation: Therese Garstenauer, in Kooperation mit den

FSP "Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft" und "Globalgeschichte")

Bureaucracy is all around us and has a tendency to expand. Contrary to
David Graeber’s opening remark in his “Utopia of rules” that allegedly
nobody talks much about bureaucracy these days, there is in fact a vivid
interest in the subject. In the late 19th century the state began to
exercise increasingly more control and influence over its citizens, for
example by imposing rules of registration and identification. Citizens,
for their part, responded to the rise of bureaucracy by making use of
what the state offered and prescribed for their own purposes.
Interaction with the authorities was, and still remains, the most common
point of contact between citizens and the state.

Encounters with authorities comprise the use of forms, credentials,
documents, money (fees as well as bribes) and many more. Bureaucracy,
however, is not confined to the state authorities, but is also alive and
well in private business. Practices from public administration are being
borrowed by private organizations, and vice versa (cf. New Public
Management). Boundaries between the two realms are sometimes blurred. As
the conference programme clearly demonstrates, bureaucracy is not a
phenomenon existing only in the so-called Western world.
The focus of this workshop is on bureaucratic encounters on the
individual and the organizational level, in the field of state
administration, as well as in private business. Bureaucratic encounters
are understood as the actual practices, not prescriptive or
ideal-typical concepts of what such encounters should be like. The
perspectives of “bureaucratic subjects,” as well as the perspectives of
those who represent the respective bureaucracies, are taken into
account. The idea of an almighty state that is supplemented by
submissive citizens which is often taken for granted in research shall
be called into question.

The contributions coming from historians, sociologists and social
anthropologists span over a period from the early 19th century to the
present. They address bureaucratic encounters taking place in (and
sometimes also between) Austria, Australia, France, Germany, Greece,
Hong Kong, India, Poland, Romania, the Russian and the Habsburg Empires,
and Switzerland, thereby allowing for comparative and interdisciplinary

Link zum Programm: