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  • Bürokratische Demokratie, demokratische Bürokratie: Ein Kommentar zu Struktur, Gestalt und System der Bürokratie in Europa by Raoul Kneucker
  • Katherine Arens
Raoul Kneucker, Bürokratische Demokratie, demokratische Bürokratie: Ein Kommentar zu Struktur, Gestalt und System der Bürokratie in Europa. Studien zu Politik und Verwaltung 117. Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2020. 382 pp.

Raoul Kneucker's Bürokratische Demokratie, demokratische Bürokratie will be a joy for many scholars of political science and scholars in various cultural studies fields wishing to understand the mechanisms of democratic governments and institutions in Europe. It is a primer summarizing how bureaucracies mark everyday lives written by a long-serving top official in the Austrian civil service (the Wissenschaftsministerium), senior advisor to the EU, professor of law and political science, and onetime general secretary of the Rektorenkonferenz and of the Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF). The volume shows a disciplined scholar bringing practical experience to provide readers with a precise, broad, and useful account of the relations between bureaucracies and politics on the traditional and rapidly evolving landscapes of Europe.

This book is a timely read for Austrianists of all disciplines, as well, because it points to important shifts in the public and political spheres (administrative, ideational, identitarian) after Europe's unification and tracks the relationship between politics and administration since the nineteenth century, [End Page 169] which has recently faced pressure from the acceleration of political change and direction under the conditions of industrial capitalism, globalization, and Europeanization. Kneucker explains fundamental relations between politics and administration—how laws are turned into rules and practices, regulations, and adjudications—as he makes the significance of the bureaucracy visible (and legible) in ways not often considered by scholars outside political science proper. And he makes his work accessible by offering his table of contents in both German and English, along with extensive chapter summaries in English that will help nonspecialist audiences with terminology.

The volume starts by citing definitions of bureaucracy from reference books in English, German, and French (12–14) and then points out that governmental bureaucracies play important roles in political democracies, despite their generally poor reputations. Bureaucracy's roles have shifted as public administration and governmental responsibilities have, even when its outward shape remains relatively constant, leading Kneucker to cite Metternichs insight: "Österreich wird nicht regiert, sondern verwaltet" (24). In Austrian history, Kneucker notes, bureaucracy developed before democracy was the state norm (the nineteenth century), then became more active after 1918 in establishing democracy (and reestablishing it after 1945), and finally was itself reshaped by newer political forces. The volume's first part provides a more synchronic, structural analysis of how politics relates to bureaucracy; the brief second part focuses on diachronic changes in European bureaucracy (not just that of Austria).

The extensive first chapter takes up bureaucracy in the twenty-first century by tracking its historical origins and transformations as a force in the public sphere, next to and interwoven with politics. After 1918, Austria inherited much more bureaucracy than it needed but it enabled them to redefine imperial bureaucrats into state civil servants. After the Anschluss, the remnants of that bureaucracy were deformed and not substantially reformed until after the 1955 Staatsvertrag, when a younger generation arrived and when career bureaucrats took on new faces (lacking, for instance, the languages their older colleagues could use professionally for outreach). This group now did more than implement law: they had the ability and even the responsibility (Amtshaftung) to advocate for their charges (for instance, by drafting laws for politicians). After the millennium, the bureaucrats' roles changed again because of globalization and other world organizations, the emergence of women into positions, and new information and communication technologies [End Page 170] that redefined access to expertise. Significant legal reforms started in 1986, then again between 2008 and 2013, and parts of the traditional civil service became privatized (for instance, post office), making them more than a traditional "Zielerfüllungsmaschine" but also disrupting walls between the civil service and industry. Kneucker sees this as a disruption in the relationship between politics and bureaucracy, especially as a layer of political appointees has been interposed between the ministers and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2327-1809
Print ISSN
2165-669X
Pages
pp. 169-171
Launched on MUSE
2021-10-21
Open Access
No
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