Critical Review of Bureaucracy Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Internship Tasks

Main task during the internship was articles about Dow Water & Process Solutions (DW&PS). The aim was to illustrate the processes going in water treatment plants and to explain the importance of wastewater reuse. Also, I helped preparing a few press releases that informed about new technologies or projects DW&PS is involved in. Such was the DEMOWARE press release, which I found very interesting and decided to look into it beyond the tasks that are normally involved in the work.

The internship in context to the study of Sociology

Analyzing legal policies might be vital for finding solutions for improving the overall image of a client or the functionality of its products. By promoting DW&PS, we talk about the solutions their products bring for issues that the general public may not be well aware of and like that it is aimed to raise awareness in the society, which will result in discussions. It is important that such topic takes central place in political debates, as it is the politicians that will allocate public funds for water treatment projects. As a global leader in the field, more projects mean more opportunities for sales of DW&PS products. At the same time, it needs to be established that DW&PS is going about things the right way and that they are not contributing to any bad governmental or bureaucratic habits as part of their efforts, whether it be intentionally or unwittingly.

Here in hand comes Sociology of Law, which has been seen as discipline treating law and justice as fundamental institutions of the basic structure of society mediating between political and economic interests; and culture and the normative order of society, establishing and maintaining interdependence, constituting themselves as sources of consensus, coercion and social control.[footnoteRef:1] With that in mind and the collection of such data it is very useful for recognizing problems and analysing the issues that come with them. It is also a good way to identify key trends among people and the society, therefore very related to the study of sociology. Trends of all sorts should be looked out for, whether they be positive or negative. Only a complete and honest review of performance metrics can reveal just how well (or poorly) any given sociological or similar effort is performing. [1: Banakar, R., Travers, M., 'Theory and Method in Socio-legal Research', 2005.]

This relation between work and studies is also evident in the scope of the projects that DW&PS is involved in. Such is the DEMOWARE[footnoteRef:2] initiative, which is a greenfield project, managed by the European Commission as part of the EU's long-term goals for sustainable environment and water use within the Union shaped in the Horizon 2020 framework programme[footnoteRef:3]. DEMOWARE is a result of the concerns related to climate change and the public pressure for solutions of environmental issues throughout Europe, an example how the society shapes regulations and legal policies through the EU Commission. With that being said, it would not be fair to say that climate change science or the motives of the climate change scientists and their governmental supports have entirely clear and defined motives. Some suggest that there are legitimate climate concerns and this is almost certainly true. At the same time, there have been instances where constructive debate and dialog has been scuttled and that is not a good thing regardless of where scientific facts truly lie. The climate, just like sociology and economics, are extremely complex and it is perhaps less than wise to draw wide-ranging conclusions based on incomplete and/or mixed evidence. DW&PS participates in the project with innovative technologies for water treatment and mainly the reuse of wastewater. As part of DEMOWARE is demo site 5 near Tarragona, which is already functioning and giving good results, saving huge amounts of water from the Ebro river and purifying wastewater which was previously disposed in the Mediterranean sea. [2: DEMOWARE, accessed 30 October 2015, http://demoware.eu/en.] [3: Horizon 2020, accessed 30 October 2015, http://bit.ly/1GVxGrf.]

1.2. Research Problem

For DEMOWARE the EU budget contribution is vital and the EU Commission describes the initiative as follows: 'DEMOWARE (Innovation Demonstration for a Competitive and Innovative European Water Reuse Sector): The ability of Europe's communities to respond to increasing water stress by taking advantage of water reuse opportunities is restricted by low public confidence in solutions, inconsistent approaches to evaluating costs and benefits of reuse schemes, and poor coordination of the professionals and organisations who design, implement and manage them. The DEMOWARE initiative will rectify these shortcomings by executing a highly collaborative programme of demonstration and exploitation, using nine existing and one greenfield site to stimulate innovation and improve cohesion within the evolving European water reuse sector.'[footnoteRef:4] [4: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-34_en.htm ]

The above introduction is necessary to illustrate the complex structure required in order to save vital resources such as water. It also shows the engagement of the EU in environmental projects, paving the way for sustainable developments and making it clear that nature is important for the future of Europe.

With the above said there is no doubt that the EU has good intentions and is in support of projects preserving the environment, but the issue here is the time necessary for such projects to be materialized. DEMOWARE was launched in the beginning of 2015 and is the result of more than eight years of discussions that started in 2007, finalized with the agreement of Horizon 2020 in 2014.[footnoteRef:5] [5: Horizon 2020, accessed 30 October 2015, http://bit.ly/1qzPFXh.]

Throughout that time the funds allocated for Horizon 2020 from the EU budget were available. There were some clarifications that might have slowed down DEMOWARE for certain period of time, but the main obstacle and the reason for the 8 years of waiting were the bureaucratic procedures that the EU has.[footnoteRef:6] [6: Tecno Aqua, accessed 16 January 2016, http://bit.ly/1llJSY4. ]

1.2.1. Problem Case - Bureaucracy

It is important to clarify that I do not view bureaucracy as something negative, like many supporters of "Brexit" would argue EU bureaucracy is.[footnoteRef:7] I believe that it is indeed bureaucracy that helped the Western societies to develop rapidly and in a positive way. At the same time, bureaucracy admits effects manifest in different ways and to different degrees. If bureaucracy manifests in the form of response times and performance metrics that are elongated and unnecessarily complex, then one could theoretically view bureaucracy as negative. However, I just hold (as do many other authors) that a bureaucratic framework and the proper amount of due diligence is important so that the proper things are addressed and nothing important is missed. The work of sociologists like Max Weber considered bureaucracy as the most important feature of modern society. Weber viewed it as a method of organisation based on specialisation of duties, action according to rules and a stable order of authority.[footnoteRef:8] In the last century the bureaucratic societies are the prosperous compared with the rest of the world, but now it might be the time that requires a more efficient process for making decisions. Here, I am not referring to simplifying things, as I believe in what Jacques Derrida argues that difficulty educates and that the simplicity in many cases brings a false clarity.[footnoteRef:9] I intend to argue that maybe it is time to go step further and to make bureaucracy efficient again, answering the needs of the modern reality in a competing capitalist world.[footnoteRef:10] Indeed, the proper balance should be struck between keeping things simple and streamlined while at the same time making sure that things are not zipped through a bureaucratic framework with too much ease and speed. This can lead to missing important things, questions about favoritism and so forth. As with all things, there can be situations where excess and waste is rampant but there can also be situations where there is not nearly enough attention to detail. The point is that bureaucracy is not inherently bad or evil even with the rhetoric that some assign to it. [7: The Independent, accessed 29 October 2015, http://ind.pn/1kcQyYi.] [8: Deflem, M., Sociology of Law, Vision of a Scholarly Traditions, 2008, Cambridge Uni Press, p. 38.] [9: Ben Agger, 'Critical Theory, Poststructrualism, Postmodernism: Their Sociological Relevance.'] [10: The Telegraph, accessed 30 October 2015, http://bit.ly/1Za7D5z.]

1.2.2. Research question

Climate change is an issue worldwide and the EU has a great opportunity to set an example to the rest of the world how to tackle it. As it is clear that environmental projects could be launched faster for better effect, it is necessary to understand why bureaucratic procedures are slowing down passing such projects in the EU Commission. That is why I have focused the Independent Study in the following Research Question:

Who benefits from the delay of DEMOWARE and what bureaucratic procedures the EU Commission could have relaxed for funding the initiative?

2. Theoretical Approach

2.1. Theory of Choice

The theoretical approach intended is Critical Theory, as it is both political and epistemological in intent and therefore very suitable for the independent study. Critical theory aims…

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