I—Expanding the Egalitarian Toolbox: Equality and Bureaucracy

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Abstract

Many problems of inequality in developing countries resist treatment by formal egalitarian policies. To deal with these problems, we must shift from a distributive to a relational conception of equality, founded on opposition to social hierarchy. Yet the production of many goods requires the coordination of wills by means of commands. In these cases, egalitarians must seek to tame rather than abolish hierarchy. I argue that bureaucracy offers important constraints on command hierarchies that help promote the equality of workers in bureaucratic organizations. Bureaucracy thus constitutes a vital if limited egalitarian tool applicable to developing and developed countries alike.

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