• Carl Slawski


Policy System Theory/ “BUREAU-cratitis”/ botanical science/ preservationism.


BUREAU-PATHOLOGIES IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS: Synthesizing a botanic garden case for a General Policy System Theory Carl Slawski, Emeritus Professor of Sociology (CSULB) 555 S. Ventu Park Rd. Newbury Park, CA 91320, USA When modernization of pathways for handicapped accessibility and an outdoor meeting patio is resisted by a campaign of public agitation under the guise of historical preservationism, architectural taste, traffic and fire safety, etc., is it any wonder that eyebrows are raised about the true motivating forces behind such agitation? Based upon the author’s use of a wide variety of social psychological and sociological theories to understand how to manage “BUREAU-cratitis” (ISSS 2002) and the convergent rise of a curious case of legalistic manipulation of county bureaucracy against the clear mission and goals of a private educational and scientific research organization, namely a botanic garden in a beautiful outdoor canyon, illustrations of tentative theoretically based causes and possible solutions to the largely social and cultural, as well as environmental intermix of problems will be given. Theories to be applied will include Conflict, Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger), Labeling (particularly as techniques of neutralization, “denial of responsibility,” “denial of injury” toward one’s opponents, and “appeal to a higher loyalty,” as developed by Sykes and Matza: 1957), Role Bargaining (W.J. Goode), functionalism (in terms of the functions of ignorance as stated by Moore and Tumin: 1949), Identity Bargaining (Erikson), modes of Synergy (Coulter: 1976), and perhaps most pointedly, Game Theory. The issue around what is called the “Meadow Terrace” project came to a head in the middle of 2007 in Santa Barbara, California, when a county Planning Department approved the project, but after it was at least one-third finished (at the expense of $72,000.00), some canyon neighbors with their resident lawyer mounted a campaign that caused a new Planning agent to rescind the permission to firm up the pathways and gently sloping patio/display area with level, natural stone, and to build three supporting outdoor terrace walls of 18 inches high for easier accessibility and a more level gathering place in the meadow, surrounded as it is by tall trees, and in the general vicinity of seven previously specifically designated historical landmarks located around or between the original botanical library and a dam across a canyon creek-bed. In the process of previous historically sensitive compliance, did the Botanic Garden (BG) give up its rights to modify any aspect of the tracts of land containing those seven landmarks (without a full-scale environmental impact report), including cutting down nearby dying or dead oak trees, or firming up the pathways across the meadow for easier access by wheelchairs or persons needing medical walkers? Did the BG relinquish its rights to use any of the remaining space within those partly historical tracts to continue to accomplish its educational and scientific mission (i.e., botanical research)? Ignorance by neighbors, and by the county bureaucrats about the actual nature of the planned terraces (and about other modifications of libraries and staff offices and teaching facilities in another area of the historically designated tracts), and the complainants’ lawyer stating the neighbors’ virtual claim to jurisdiction over the entire historically pertinent area, including over the low level terrace leveling project, caused a furor characterized by public debate in meetings of the HLAC (the county’s preservationist overseers, who are not expertly trained in botany or education, if even archaeological or historical methodologies, namely, the Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission) and the county Board of Supervisors, few of whom showed a clear understanding of the botanical (scientific) mission of the Garden or of the legal limits of designation of the seven sites on the grounds, in contrast to the overblown aesthetic and historic preservation ideology. [3/28/08--- BpNpoAb.doc] Keywords: Policy System Theory/ “BUREAU-cratitis”/ botanical science/ preservationism.

Author Biography

Carl Slawski

Emeritus Professor of Sociology (CSULB)



How to Cite

Slawski, C. (2008). BUREAU-PATHOLOGIES IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS:. Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2008, Madison, Wisconsin, 3(1). Retrieved from https://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings52nd/article/view/993



Organisational Transformation and Social Change