1st Edition

Language, Bureaucracy and Social Control

By Srikant Sarangi, Stefan Slembrouck Copyright 1996
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    Language, Bureaucracy and Social Control explores the varying inter-relationships between language, forms of bureaucratic organisation and social control. The text provides a detailed examination of the discursive dimensions of some of the key techniques of modern power: the 'productive' surveillance practices of administrative and public service institutions. Special attention is paid to recent developments within the state domain and the private economy such as the introduction of consumerism and promotional practices in welfare institutions, and the spread of bureaucratisation in contexts such as banking and education.


    1. Language, bureaucracy and social control
    Bureacracy and social control
    Language and bureaucracy

    2. Bureaucratisation and debureaucratisation in contemporary society
    Introduction: what discourse practices are construed as bureaucratic?
    Bureaucratisation and debureaucratisation
    Changing discourse practices as action and as process
    The analysis of language use
    The language-situation dynamic
    Social control as an area of struggle

    3. The pragmatics of information exchange in bureaucratic discourse
    Introduction: information exchange as a focus of study
    Bureaucrats seeking information and clients giving it
    Interpreting information exchange in pragmatic terms
    Reversing the roles: clients seeking information and institutions avoiding giving information
    Conclusion: regulated information exchange and social control

    4. Role behaviour in discourse
    Modes of talk and multiple role behaviour
    Discourse roles
    Shifting role relationships and the construction of social identities
    Role perception in discourse

    5. The client's perspective: clients as citizens
    Challenging the inhuman face of bureaucracy
    Creating an edge over the institution
    Talking to bureaucrats in order to maintain non-clienthood
    Client's response to institutional failure: the case of lost mail

    6. The bureaucrat's perspective: citizens as clients
    Alarming the client
    Maintaining bureaucracy through official documents: forms and leaflets

    7. The discourse of mediation: bureaucrats' dilemma and clients' wisdom
    Social workers attemting to redress the imbalance
    Counselling institutions
    Institutional monopolies over mediation
    Conclusion: socio-economic struggles over multi-tier bureaucracy

    8. Instead of a conclusion



    Authored by Sarangi, Srikant; Slembrouck, Stefan