Types of Legitimate Order

This is directly going off of the last post on legitimate order in general:

The legitimacy of an order may be guaranteed in two principle ways:

  1. The guarantee may be purely subjective, being either
    1. affectual: resulting from emotional surrender
    2. value-rational: determined by the belief in the absolute validity of the order as the expression of ultimate values of an ethical, esthetic or of any other type; or
    3. religious: determined by the belief that salvation depends upon obedience to the order
  2. The legitimacy of an order may, however, be guaranteed also (or merely) by the expectation of specific external effects, that is, by interest situations    (33)

Overall, I would peg Twin Oaks and other similar communities as being primarily of the value-rational type, in that there are certain core values that members to a large degree share in believing are the purpose they are living together (although there can be significant disagreement), and everything else about the order derives from (or is at least consistent with) those values.  Of course, just like for explaining social action, there is probably a lot of overlap between these types.  I imagine that affectual explanations are important for many people at these communities as well.

Related, Weber also gives two types of orders:

  1. convention so far as its validity is externally guaranteed by the probability that deviation from it within a given social group will result in a relatively general and practically significant reaction of disapproval
  2. law if it is externally guaranteed by the probability that physical or psychological coercion will be applied by a staff of people in order to bring about compliance or avenge violation  (34)

Here’s where it gets somewhat tricky.  I’ve already written about general social disapproval being one of the main ways in which social conventions are enforced.  Weber thinks that this is indeed a powerful enforcement mechanism:

A violation of conventional rules… often leads to the extremely severe and effective sanction of an informal boycott on the part of members of one’s status group.  This may actually be a more severe punishment than any legal penalty.  The only thing lacking is a staff with the specialized function of maintaining enforcement of the order, such as judges, prosecuting attorneys, administrative officials, or sheriffs.  The transition, however, is gradual.  (34)

So where do intentional communities fall under these terms?  Ones that are somewhat smaller, such as Acorn Community, are run by consensus meetings, without anything resembling these positions.  Larger communities like Twin Oaks are a bit different.  There are, to some degree, people in specialized positions that could be considered to fulfil these roles.  They don’t have the State-backed coercive power as the positions Weber names in the above quote, but I think it would be accurate to say that at least a major part of the function of the Process Team (the conflict resolution team) and the entire Planner-Manager system is “a staff with the specialized function of maintaining enforcement of the order,” if I’m to use “enforcement” in the broad sense that Weber is using it.  These positions are not full time functions, and again they have limited enforcement power compared to typical hierarchical organizations, but that does appear to be their purpose.  Considering how broadly he defines enforcing agency, this seems to fit.

Upon further reflection, would even something like the consensus group at a community like Acorn be considered an enforcing agency?  In extreme situations, that does seem to be the purpose it would serve.  Maybe this will become clearer later on when Weber goes into more detail.  It’s hard to apply some of the modern organizational forms to this terminology from 100 years ago.


~ by Ethan Tupelo on 02014.08.20.

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