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Bureaucracy and Emotions - Perspectives across Disciplines

Abstract

In traditional administrative models the public servant is emotionally conceptualized in a specific way, namely as a rationally acting and emotionally abstinent person. However, these are also models of observation that are strongly guided on the one hand by normative ideas and on the other by historical master narratives that focus on the development of a specifically occidental rationality. In particular, the emotional turn in historical science inspires us to take a critical view of such assumptions. But other approaches developed in other scientific disciplines also stimulate us to sharpen our historical view of the emotional aspects of bureaucracy: in jurisprudence “Law and Emotions” and in sociology “Sociology of Emotions”. This article presents these scientific approaches and tries to sound out their usefulness for the history of administration. In this way, it also serves as an introduction to this volume of the journal Administory.

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The Bureaucracy of Honor. The Habsburg Consular Service and the History of Emotions

Abstract

I use the personnel files of three consuls in the Austro-Hungarian foreign service to consider the ways Habsburg bureaucracy recorded the emotional lives of civil servants. Consuls were expected to interact with Habsburg subjects and other civilians dispassionately and objectively. But conflicts that occurred in their ‘free time,’ outside the consulates, spilled over into their professional time. The resolution of those conflicts involved their colleagues in the consulates and administrators in Vienna. While showing emotion in interactions inside the consulate was frowned upon, responding to attacks on personal honor with the strongest of emotions was expected of an Austro-Hungarian “gentleman.” Consuls had to abide by both the standards of their profession and the standards for “men of honor” (Ehrenmänner) that had been codified with the officer corps in mind. The recognition that both roles were compatible shows the repackaging of certain kinds of “emotion” as professional requirements, rather than excesses.

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Bürgeremotionen versus Verwaltungsrationalität?
»Aktion Bürgerwille« und politisches Establishment in den 1970er-Jahren

Abstract

Political discussions and negotiation processes are often used to classify rational or emotional behavior that enhances one’s own and the other’s devaluation. In the paper this is elaborated with a view to the clash of state planning euphoria and civic protest in the wake of the great administrative reforms of the 1960s and 1970s. Both supporting the reforms and criticizing them are highly complex emotional processes. But how is this reflected in the arguments and actions of the actors? To answer this question, the contemporary ideas and interpretations of a rational and emotional behavior come into focus. The emotions associated with the debate are analyzed at various levels: as a strategy of citizens’ initiatives, as a media strategy, as a factor of community involvement or the “emotional community” and as an attribution.

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Decency and Respect. New Perspectives on Emotional Bonds between State and Citizens

Abstract

The 1850s were witness to several forms of emotion management in the Habsburg monarchy, among them the prohibition of writing to the authorities in a defamatory manner. The so-called law against defamatory speech was one of many initiatives which contributed to the generation, exploitation, control and containment of emotions towards the state. As this law remains in force today, it provides an excellent starting point for an exploration into continuities and changes concerning ›feeling rules‹ for encounters between subjects and the state. My chapter explores these rules through the lens of the administrative court, where acceptable criticism had to be clearly demarcated from defamatory speech acts. Looking at these proceedings, it is evident that emotional work routines are missing in the public service. Therefore, citizens were and still are required to keep their emotions under control and react to provocative acts by public officials in strictly rational terms.

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An den Grenzen der Vernunft: Beamte und ›Barbaren‹ in den Peripherien Lateinamerikas, 18.–19. Jahrhundert

Abstract

This contribution investigates the role of emotions for the administration of indigenous people in the Latin American periphery, considered “barbarians” by colonial and republican officials. Drawing on case studies from Northwest Mexico and the Southern Cone, the article examines the Spanish-European self-image as “people of reason” vis-á-vis indigenous “people without reason” or “people of custom”. The concept of trust is employed to explore the boundaries and overlappings between emotion and rationality in interethnic relations during colonial and republican times. Giving examples from archival material such as letters and reports of state agents, this paper concludes that there was no monopoly on rationality, as claimed by the public officials, but always a possibility to establish trusting relationships between indigenous groups and state society.

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Editorial
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Feeling like a State. The Sentiments Tide of Swiss Diplomacy through the Eye of the Algorithm

Abstract

Can emotions be observed throughout the years at the regional scale of continents and countries? Does variation in their intensity correlate with historical events and with the evolution of diplomatic and administrative practices? If so, who is the subject of emotion? We seek answers by a remote reading analysis of the reports of Swiss ambassadors in the first half of the 20th century. We examine the conditions under which super-individual subjects of emotion can be aggregated from large textual datasets, and propose a theoretical framework for their interpretation. In specific examples, we show how algorithmic sentiment analysis let us identify the exceptionally expressive language of the Swiss ambassador in Tokyo during World War 2, or the posture of the Swiss administration with regard to the social movements in Scandinavia. Our findings yield both methodological recommendations and theoretical bridges between various disciplines concerned with emotions and their expression in written documents.

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