This section discusses the three authority types as defined by Max Weber, one of the foremost social theorists of the twentieth century. Weber outlines three primary types of authority: traditional authority, rational-legal authority, and charismatic authority. As you read, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which type of authority leads to the most stable form of government, and why? Which type leads to the least stable form of government?
- How can one form of authority eventually lead to another? For example, in how can charismatic authority evolve into traditional authority?
- Why is the U.S. government primarily characterized by rational-legal authority? Can either of the other two types of authority apply?