Despre birocratie (3) (lung)

Ultima parte a insemnarilor despr ebirocratie nu-mi mai apartine ca idee si scriitura. E un citat, despre cum birocratia conduce lumea fara sa stie cum arata de fapt ea. Si e perfect logic, culmea!!!

Text din Luciana Duranti, Diplomatics. New Uses for an Old Science p. 71 sqq

 

Many businesses and private organizations are in fact structured, and function, like large bureaucracies. As Stanley Raffel puts it, with the rise of bureaucracy, the real world came “to be shaped by the very idea of recording it…. It is not that records record things but that the very idea of recording determines in advance how things will have to appear.” Consequently, the world started to be seen as a series of witnessable and extractable facts which, transported into the record, became identical with the record. This evolution was determined by the circumstance that a bureaucrat, as user of the record, wants to achieve in his/her use of the record the reality of the fact without participating in it. Therefore, bureaucracy first divides the world into facts, then requires the recording of them, and finally transforms each record into a fact, into something which can be treated as self-sufficient, ready for use. Because bureaucracy cannot think about the record, it needs to be able to listen to the record. “All bureaucracy can be seen as an attempt to create a method for the reduction of contingency, imperfection, and error, an attempt which is represented in the bureaucrat-as-user’s effort to reduce his participation in the reading of the record.”

Bureaucracy adopts two methods for assessing the record as a fact. The first method is indirect. Instead of deciding whether records mirror facts, bureaucracy decides whether record-writers are reliable. If the writer is reliable, the user can identify him/her- self with the writer, that is, with the witness to the fact. To be able to rely on record-writers requires controlling them in a number of different ways. Raffel identifies four ways: 1) restricting the privilege of record-writing to professionals (of course, record-writers are those who sign records and/or are responsible for them); 2) imposing sanctions on record-writers by requiring signatures, so that the bureaucrat has a record anyway, either a record of the fact or a record of who failed to report the fact; 3) instituting procedures, that is, giving responsibility to each writer for reporting only a portion of a fact, and/or increasing the number of those who report the same fact, so that what their records will have in common will be the true fact; 4) making different purposes concurrent, that is, making the same record serve a number of different users: instead of the number of writers, the size of the audience is increased, so that the writer cannot tailor the message to the audience.

The second method for assessing the record is direct. Rather than being concerned with the truthfulness of the record, bureaucracy focuses on its completeness. Records can be assessed in terms of standards other than their effectiveness in mirroring facts, that is, they can be assessed in terms of forms. This evaluation amounts to redefining the record as a visible fact at which the user is present. If a record possesses all the various bureaucratically necessary forms and those forms are complete, the user can achieve complete passivity and treat the record as a thing which is showing him/her what it is. Completeness is the major standard in terms of which records are actually assessed. Any manual, directive, or circular related to record-making emphasizes, not that records should be truthful, but that they should be complete. Completeness is the bureaucrat’s way to die real. How? Let us take as examples two elements common to various record forms: signature and date. By requiring a signature, bureaucracy asks writers to declare by signing that their records mirror the facts. The declaration that a record is adequate becomes the fact for the user. The signature gives responsibility to the writer for his/her words; therefore the user does not need to check the record against the fact, because the signature shows and legally establishes where the responsibility lies. The signature is the fact. By requiring the indication of the place and time in which a record is written, bureaucracy transforms the record into the fact, because the mention of a topical and/or chronological date captures the relation between writer and fact, and this relationship becomes one of the things the record speaks about: a fact belonging to die past can be known by the record-user if the relationship between the person who writes about it and the fact itself is localized in space and time if the relationship between the person who writes about it and the fact itself is localized in space and time.

The facts bureaucracy deals with are of any kind, but the facts bureaucracy is directly involved in are of a very special kind; they are juridical acts directed to the obtainment of effects recognized and guaranteed by the system, that is, they are transactions. The necessity of examining the characteristics of bureaucratic transactions for an understanding of records bureaucratically produced is made clear by Raffel’s analysis of the relationship between bureaucracy and records. It can be further strengthened if we consider a few words written in a different context, for different purposes: “Records are recorded transactions. Recorded transactions are information, communicated to other people in the course of business, via a store of information available to them.” This statement defines records only indirectly as information. Their being information descends from the fact that they are recorded transactions. Moreover, their being recorded transactions qualifies the type of information which they are. They are not just recorded information, but conveyed information. The author of the definition, the United Nations Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Information Systems, is so conscious of its implications that it feels the need to explain further: “This definition … is consistent with the concept that a record is created by an official action of receiving or sending information. Both paper based records management and electronic records management must distinguish between the hour-to-hour or day-to-day changes in a draft of an official document and records sent or received by the organization. In both situations making an entry in a bookkeeping journal, a case file, a database, or even a ‘memo to the file’ is creating a record even though the information is not ‘sent,’ because others are intended to receive this communication at a later date. Each system must distinguish official from purely private information; thus jotting a note about an expenditure or change of address on a loose slip of paper or in an electronic memo pad to remind ourselves to make such an entry at a later time is not a record-transaction, and hence, not a record.” This statement has enormous implications. The United Nations is a bureaucratic organization, which like any organization functions by means of transactions. These transactions take place by means of documents which, as Raffel pointed out, must be reliable and complete, so that they can be identified with the transactions they are about. Therefore, documents which are reliable and complete, that is, able to convey information, capable of being used in a transaction, and of reaching the purposes for which they have been produced, are transactions. This species of documents are called records. Records are recorded transactions. As a consequence, recorded information, or documents, which do not present the above characteristics, are not records. They are still documents, though, and may be very significant documents, because they reveal the creative process of producing records, that is, of carrying out a transaction. This writer does not believe that the committee, making the distinction between them and the records, aims to re-create the medieval dichotomy between the archives-treasure, made of chosen documents, mainly dispositive and probative in original form (think of Le Tresor des Chartes), and the archives-sediment, made of interlocutory documents, mainly drafts and notes, produced constantly and progressively in the conduct of affairs. Referring to a very different operation, the committee is saying to a bureaucratic organization that, to acquire and maintain control of its documentary material, it is vital that both its record creators and its record managers make a distinction between the documents resulting from a procedure and those resulting from a process. If a procedure is the body of written or unwritten rules whereby a transaction is effectuated, and comprises the formal steps to be undertaken in carrying out a transaction, the documents resulting from it are one with the transaction, and must be identified as such since their creation, so that they will not be confused in the future with those generated by processes. In fact, a process is a series of motions, or activities in general, carried out to set oneself to work and go on towards each formal step of a procedure. The documents resulting from a process are preparatory, incomplete, they are the instruments necessary to set the stage. They are not meant to be communicated, and may be as precious to the scholar as they are irrelevant to the bureaucracy. The committee calls records the products of procedures and, in the manual, does not consider the products of processes. Undoubtedly, there are good reasons: the work is directed to an organization which, because of its bureaucratic nature, cannot be interested in non-records; the guidelines refer to the management of electronic documents, among which the non-records are often just scattered pieces of unrelated information; and the focus is on current documents, both for the needs of the organization and for the practical problems presented by the specific medium.

 

 

 

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