Authority – Meaning and Three types of Authority, Rational Legal Authority

Any person, party or organization that has the political power to take administrative decisions is known as the authority. In the hierarchy, it is at the top while other people obey them and their laws. The authority can also enforce obedience when the situation arises. It makes sure that the law and order are maintained peacefully. It also is the power to influence someone, and people naturally even follow because of the kind of knowledge and commanding manner the authority has. This makes the people rely on the authoritative powers and they believe in the jurisdiction too.

 Rational-legal Authority is also well known by the name legal authority or rational domination or legal domination or bureaucratic authority. It is tied up with legal rationality, legal legitimacy and bureaucracy. In the twentieth and the twenty-first century, most of the modern states comprise it. However, in sociology, this term comes from the threefold classification presented by Max Weber. The triple division consists of government used by sociologist which is also called as Rational-legal Authority, Traditional Authority and Charismatic Authority. Moreover, all of these categorizations have an ideal concept in common. As per traditional authority, legally the authority comes from tradition whereas, in charismatic authority, it is more so based on the qualities that the person possesses, in particular, the leadership characteristics of an individual. As per Weber, under Legal rationality, there are laws which have been enacted and which are rightly obeyed by the citizens as they are supported by several other laws. In addition to this, the government monopolizes the entire system and makes sure that the enacted laws are obeyed with the help of physical force. It is called “legitimate authority” when the society unites in affirming to the power.

As for example, we can consider the viewing of a police car in our rearview mirrors to be of this kind of authority.

   Let us understand the complex societies of Rational-legal Authority, Traditional Authority and Charismatic Authority in detail.

  • Rational-legal Authority:

This type of power is based more on the laws and rules of society.

  • Traditional Authority:

This type of power is rooted in the society through the beliefs and practices of the society and thus has been there for a long time.

  • Charismatic Authority:

This type of power is based on the charismatic characters possessed by an individual who exercises their supremacy over the entire society or sometimes on the smaller groups within the whole society.