From Iron Cage to Pigeon House: The Birth of Reflexive Authority

M.J.M. Hoogenboom, Marinus R.R. Ossewaarde

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In recent years, Weber’s image of the ‘iron cage’ has been challenged by the sociologists Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens. They claim that this image no longer applies to the late modern world we are entering. In the late modern era, individuals, institutions and organizations have become or will become reflexive, and as a consequence the iron cage of rationalization is opening. In this article, the authors largely subscribe to the theories of Beck and Giddens though formulate two objections. First, they demonstrate that the theories each illuminate only one level of social life in late modernity and should be combined. Second, they claim that in the theories of Beck and Giddens a search for a possible integrating phenomenon is largely missing. By combining the theories they disentangle a new form of integration, which may emerge in late modernity. This new form of integration they dub 'reflexive authority'
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)601-619
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Authority
  • Rationalization
  • reflexive action
  • IR-60124
  • reflexive organization
  • METIS-227779
  • reflexive modernization

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