Definition of bureaucracy in English:



  • 1A system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives.

    • ‘It is not focused on the growth of the economy, but on the growth of surpluses, welfare dependency, and bureaucracy.’
    • ‘Dawa had been working under Chinese bureaucracy for quite some time.’
    • ‘In this case the people are circus performers, not very good ones, and the system is the Communist bureaucracy of Czechoslovakia.’
    • ‘He surveys the continued break-up and decline in influence of the old social democratic bureaucracy and predicts that reaction will benefit.’
    • ‘When Yahoo bureaucracy rules, people die in the health services and the aged in nursing homes are victimised while benchmark payments are pocketed.’
    • ‘It also reduces the links between social democracy and overbearing bureaucracy.’
    • ‘Weber's most notable contribution, however, lay in identifying the importance of bureaucracy to modern politics.’
    • ‘He believed in the benefits to be gained from freeing people from the shackles of bureaucracy and excessive regulation.’
    • ‘It is just more socialist bureaucracy and more pandering to the trade union movement.’
    • ‘Far from their learning any lessons, these events drive them closer to bureaucracy, the national bourgeoisie, and imperialism.’
    • ‘In Germany, a genocidal society was working with state bureaucracy to roll out the massive program of the Holocaust.’
    • ‘I will bet that members opposite will vote for bureaucracy rather than for common sense.’
    civil service, administration, government, directorate, the establishment, the system, the powers that be, corridors of power
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    1. 1.1[count noun]A state or organization governed or managed as a bureaucracy.
      • ‘The Stalinist bureaucracy has proven to be - as Trotsky predicted - the gravedigger of the October Revolution.’
      • ‘On top of this, the Stalinist bureaucracy was gaining a stranglehold on the revolution.’
      • ‘Virtually all corporations and government bureaucracies are dictatorships.’
      • ‘However, even his own federal bureaucracy eliminated 40,000 jobs this year.’
      • ‘Some were continued, largely because there were so many elements within the Baath Party bureaucracy with a vested interest in these expenditures.’
      • ‘Such automatic feedback mechanisms are one of the primary reasons why markets perform so much better than public sector bureaucracies.’
      • ‘By 1991 the Soviet Union, and the Stalinist bureaucracy which headed it, had collapsed.’
      • ‘This is one of the big problems with bureaucracies, especially as regards long-seated civil organizations.’
      • ‘In brushing aside the crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy, the claim is made that the market economy in China will inevitably bring democracy.’
      • ‘He distrusts private initiative and longs for giant bureaucracies to run people's lives for them.’
      • ‘Three critical experiences of BC workers exemplify the role of the union bureaucracy and the NDP.’
      • ‘Its first act has been to draft a new democratic constitution which will outlaw oppression of the former communist bureaucracy.’
      • ‘The post-Soviet bureaucracies thrive on registration, licensing and other enforced paperwork.’
      • ‘The Stalinist bureaucracy in Beijing, which was based on the seizure of power by peasant-based armies, was never socialist or communist.’
      • ‘Just one decade later the policy of the Stalinist bureaucracy represented the opposite.’
      • ‘Certainly, massive health bureaucracies and well endowed research institutions do not have a monopoly on wisdom.’
      • ‘He and six other members of the eight-man Soviet delegation, including Bukharin who led it, died at the hands of the Stalinist bureaucracy.’
      • ‘Most bureaucracies encourage their people to be the first and only line of defense.’
      • ‘Does anyone really believe that the majority of working people actually like Government bureaucracies?’
      • ‘Benn believed the Soviet system remained a positive force long after the workers' state of 1917 was replaced with the Stalinist bureaucracy.’
    2. 1.2[count noun]The officials in a bureaucracy, considered as a group or hierarchy.
      • ‘The foreign policy bureaucracy, not elected of course, plays a subordinate, non-political, essentially instrumental role.’
      • ‘The federal bureaucracy, where millions of workers don't agree with the president, has been weak.’
      • ‘Needless to say, a gigantic new Labour bureaucracy has risen from the ground to serve it, with 570 on the payroll in England alone at one point.’
      • ‘There are, of course, a chief executive's policies, which are executed by a staff and attending bureaucracies.’
      • ‘That is, a system dominated by a privileged bureaucracy which puts its own interests before those of the masses and a political leadership which represents this bureaucracy.’
      • ‘The German bureaucracy worked loyally; its Soviet counterpart often worked more for itself than for its rulers.’
      • ‘Conservative MPs, the constituency associations, and the party bureaucracy at Central Office are now united in a single organization.’
      • ‘In Eastern Europe, the ruling bureaucracy suppressed every independent political movement of the working class.’
      • ‘It took a lot of courage to write in a police state that ‘the ruling bureaucracy is anti working class, an enemy’, and call for its revolutionary overthrow.’
      • ‘The labour bureaucracies could no longer combine their defence of the profit system with the advocacy of limited social reforms.’
      • ‘The medieval period was one of political fragmentation even as the state administrative bureaucracy grew.’
      • ‘The role of the school district bureaucracy shrinks to handing out money and administering the accountability program.’
      • ‘He often seemed to regard the Washington bureaucracy rather than the Vietnamese communists as his main enemy.’
      • ‘Did the foreign policy bureaucracy facilitate or impede presidential decisions for war?’
      • ‘In other words, they must know how to motivate the bureaucracy through personal contacts, wining and dining, and red envelopes.’
      • ‘He created a multi-layered bureaucracy between him and the people who worked on the trains, as well as the traveling public.’
      • ‘In America, large firms and the state have to employ bureaucracies to cope with and satisfy one another.’
      • ‘This ruling is a victory for a distant bureaucracy over democratically elected authorities acting in the public good.’
      • ‘The same can be said about Attac's relations with the trade union bureaucracy, another important prop of the old social order.’
      • ‘The other prop for the Labour leadership is the union bureaucracies, the full time officials at the top of the hierarchy.’
  • 2Excessively complicated administrative procedure.

    ‘the unnecessary bureaucracy in local government’
    • ‘Dragged down by the increased workload and snowed under by excessive bureaucracy, GPs feel no sense of involvement in the changes being made in the NHS.’
    • ‘Many things in India are complex because of massive bureaucracy, protocol and procedure.’
    • ‘They waste vast slabs of the country's labour-force on bureaucracy and paperwork and so make the country poorer.’
    • ‘Serious executive authority is required to slice through the Kirk's ever-growing bureaucracy and its cumbersome administrative procedures.’
    • ‘Colleges also suffered from excessive bureaucracy, he said.’
    • ‘Creating laws that insist on transparency will also create a huge amount of paperwork, administration and bureaucracy and enforcement costs.’
    • ‘They are burdened down with unnecessary bureaucracy and regulations.’
    • ‘Centralised student unions work best when freed from this unnecessary level of bureaucracy.’
    • ‘And doctors who chose their vocation in order to cure the sick say unnecessary bureaucracy is eating into the time they have to care for patients and spend with their families.’
    • ‘He is coping with local government bureaucracy and finds the system not very frustrating.’
    • ‘There is no overbearing bureaucracy or complicated rules.’
    • ‘It is not Treaty settlement legislation but welfarism and bureaucracy, and it needs substantial amendment.’
    • ‘That revealed 81.2% of teachers want to see levels of paperwork and bureaucracy in schools cut.’
    • ‘Labour regulation and bureaucracy would be swept away.’
    • ‘But he insisted that the reductions could be found by tackling waste and administrative bureaucracy.’
    • ‘Contract manufacturers benefit from reduced layers of bureaucracy and more streamlined procedures.’
    • ‘More than 3,600 staff will be given the chance to influence the way the trust is run by pointing out the unnecessary rules, paperwork and bureaucracy which slow them down.’
    • ‘The unit will tackle unnecessary paperwork and reduce bureaucracy.’
    • ‘Of course, with their soviet training, the new eastern states should easily get to grips with the arcane procedures and bureaucracy of the EU.’
    • ‘Pupil behaviour, excessive workload and bureaucracy, teacher shortages and the stream of new Government initiatives have all been cited as causes.’
    red tape, rules and regulations, etiquette, protocol, officialdom
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Early 19th century: from French bureaucratie, from bureau (see bureau).