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Bureaucratic Manipulation of Physical Symbols: An Empirical Study

Charles T. Goodsell
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Feb., 1977), pp. 79-91
DOI: 10.2307/2110449
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2110449
Page Count: 13
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Bureaucratic Manipulation of Physical Symbols: An Empirical Study
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Abstract

Unobtrusive observation is utilized to examine physical symbols of "authority" and "service" in four governmental agencies operating in Illinois; namely police departments, public health departments, drivers license examining stations, and Armed Forces recruiting offices. Hypotheses as to the relative frequency of these symbols are developed from a concept of contrasting output roles based on varying needs of organizations to (1) impress incoming clients with their legitimacy and (2) attract clients who are not forced to use the organization's outputs. The data largely support these hypotheses and reveal marked differences in the ways the agencies manipulate symbols.

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