Technologically Coded Authority: The Post-Industrial Decline in Bureaucratic Hierarchies | Aneesh

Aneesh Aneesh (Stanford University); Technologically Coded Authority: The Post-Industrial Decline in Bureaucratic Hierarchies; in Some Venue Surely; WHEN?; 25 pages.


The indestructibility of bureaucratic structures prophesied by Weber seems no longer a stable truth. More and more corporations in America are experiencing the de-layering and flattening of bureaucratic hierarchies. Bureaucratic authority in the workplace suddenly seems less visible and repressive. Is it reasonable to see such changes as signifying the end of bureaucratic management, as some scholars seem to suggest (e.g., Kanter, 1991)? Does post- industrial manage ment – with its flexible work systems – introduce extensive autonomy in the workplace, reducing the level of immediate worker control? The shift in the structures of workplace governance, I argue, is not from more to less governance. The new forms of management are increasingly embedded in technology itself without reducing the efficacy and effects of earlier bureaucracies. In particular, I identify the role of programming languages – a rather understudied component of the workplace – in the emerging complex of organizational governance.


  • algocracy
  • Fordist
  • post-Fordist
  • numerical flexibility
  • downsizing
  • outsourcing
  • subcontracting
  • lean (as a noun)
  • upskilled work
  • participative management
  • post-bureaucratic work
  • bureauspace
  • two-tier organizations
  • non-owner managerial (a class)
  • visible hand
    invisible hand
  • power is visible, unverifiable
  • disciplinary society
  • automate
  • infomate [Zuboff's neologistic epithet]


Governance Modalities

  • bureaucratic → office → rule of [the] office
  • panotic → surveillance → rule of [the] gaze
  • algocratic → code → rule of [by] code
[Sub-]lines of Algocracy
  • work structure
  • work flow
  • work-related decisions


  • Rationality, Efficiency
  • Charisma
  • Tradition


  • Beaudrillard
  • Bell
  • Bentham
  • Chandler
  • Foucault
  • Habermas
  • Lessig
  • Marx
  • Salzman and Rosenthal
  • Sartre
  • Schumpeter
  • Weber
  • Zuboff

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