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Agencies Class Concepts, Fall 1999

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: November 10, 1999
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Positive Perspective of the Administrative Process

Black Letter Concept Definition

The positive perspective of he administrative process assumes that our bureaucracies are the means by which interest-groups preserve their political gains.

Administrative Process is the process through which we socially construct the bureaucracies that run our society.

The Normative Perspective of Concept of Administrative Process


Jerry Mashaw, "Explaining Administrative Process: Normative, Positive, and Critical Stories of Legal Development," p. 77-8, in Peter Schuck, Foundations of Administrative Law, Oxford University Press, 1994.

The positive perspective of the administrative process assumes that the process is the means by which "political victors maintain the gains from successful interest-group struggle." (Mashaw, at p. 78.)

More to come . . .

Questions to Help You Focus

  1. What is the positive political theory perception of bureaucratic process?

    The positive political theory perscpective sees the normative perception as deceptive and controlling for those in control. This perspective sees the major focus as that of gains of interest-groups in the political arena. Note the link to capture.

  2. How are the positive political theory perspective and the critical legal studies perspective similar?

    Both groups recognize the problems of capture as central, and the process as political. Critical legal studies particularly views bureaucracy as supportive of the controlling majority and as bereft of legitimacy. From their perspective the bureaucracies are merely another means of oppression and coercion.

  3. How does theoretical understanding of the process as seen by different professionals and interest groups help us to deal with actual administrative problems in the world of practice?

    Theoretical understanding provides some social distance from which we can address the real issues without the affect that attaches to actual practice. Sometimes that can help us negotiate between two agencies whose directors subscribe to different theoretical positions, making both our job, and the client service more effective.