Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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In Max Weber's sociology, particularly, the process whereby charisma is stabilized into ongoing authority structures. According to Weber, all legitimate social authority is rooted in charisma, but because charisma is founded on a personal relationship between a followership and a leader, charismatic authority is inherently unstable; that is, it cannot directly survive the loss of the leader. If the social organization is to survive, some form of routinization must take place; an orderly (or routine) determination of who legitimately wields power must be determined. According to Weber, the two principal types of routinization are traditional and rational-legal. In the traditional structure, a person is understood to inherit charisma in some way, often with mystical sanction (e.g., kingship). In rational-legal authority structures, a set of laws or rules serves this purpose. Real-world authority structures are usually of mixed character. Perhaps the most important routinization form for the social scientific study of religion itself is office charisma , a traditionalist structure wherein the "office" to which a functionary is usually "ordained" is considered to be sacred (e.g., "Holy Orders") and to convey sanctity in turn upon the occupant's acts, without regard to his or her moral character generally.

See also Charisma

William H. Swatos, Jr .


M. Weber, Economy and Society (Berkeley: University of California, 1978).

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