Difference between Democracy and Bureaucracy

Key difference: Democracy is a form of government made by the people or their elected representatives. Bureaucracy is a form of government made up of officials and administrators working for the government.

A Bureaucracy is a body of non-elective government officials and an administrative policy-making group. It is referred to as a government administration which is managed by departments staffed with non-elected officials. The term "bureaucracy" is French in origin, and combines the French word bureau – desk or office – with the Greek word kratos – rule or political power. The bureaucracies are criticized for their complexity, their inefficiency, and their inflexibility. Everything within a bureaucracy: responsibilities, jobs, and assignments exists to achieve some goal. Bureaucracies are found at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels of government, and even large private corporations. People who work for government agencies, from managers and executives to clerical staff, are called as bureaucrats. The term bureaucracy has negative connotations. They bring long and difficult forms; standing in long lines; and encounters with inflexible and unsympathetic clerks. The simplest of requests are tangled and the paperwork is slow. Despite this popular perception, bureaucracy is necessary for big governmental agencies to operate. There are certain characteristics which help bureaucracies to run smoothly.


•     A formal hierarchical structure- it is the basis of centralized planning and decision making.
•     Management by rules- Controlling by rules allows decisions made to be executed constantly by all the lower levels.
•    Organization by functional specialty- people are organized into units based on the type of work they do or skills they have.
•    Purposely impersonal- all employees equally and customers are treated equally.

The bureaucratic form is so common that most people accept it as the normal way of organizing in most enterprises. 

Officials working in bureaucratic organizations generally blame the ugly side effects of bureaucracy on management, without even thinking that the real problem may lie with themselves.

Democracy is a form of government made by the people, for the people and of the people. People help make the government by choosing their own representatives. They have the power to make or break the government by casting their votes. All citizens are treated as equals. The term originates from the Greek word ‘dēmokratía’ which means rule of the people. Equality, freedom and rule of law are the characteristics of democracy. It is said to be the purest form of democracy. The government is made by people, hence they have the right to choose what laws to create, implement and enact. Democracy is more about letting people make choices which are better for them and not someone else. This government displays more of a freer society with options.

Comparison between Democracy and Bureaucracy:





It is a government made by people.

It is a form of government made by officials and administrators.


The people representatives run the government.

The officials are non-elective.


The government works on making laws.

The officials work on making the paperwork for the law.


The people form the government.

The officials and administrative form the body of the government.

Image Courtesy: gallery.guetech.org, humanrights.getusinfo.com 

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