DISCIPLINARY PROCESSES AS EXEMPLARS OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

JOSEPH JAMES HANRAHAN, Fordham University

Abstract

This study has examined the disciplinary systems of two New York City mayoralty agencies, the Police Department and the Sanitation Department, as exemplars of administrative law. ^ Administration, especially within the public sector, is that series of social interactions between bureaucrats and their various publics, including citizens and a designated clientele. The social ordering of these relationships, the rights, obligations and privileges among participants, and the manifest and latent consequences of the outcomes of disputes among contending factions all come within the purview of the sociology of law. ^ The methodological difficulties encountered in the examination of administrative law are varied and many. Foremost among them is the sheer volume of organizations, the vast number of employees, and the millions of decisions made affecting the public. Since the great bulk of administrative judgments are informally made, including decisions not to act or to delay acting, it is virtually impossible to scrutinize them.^ Formal proceedings, e.g., hearings, arbitration conferences, or administrative trials, are recorded and subject to review and evaluation. How may one examine informal and discretionary decisions? What criteria are used to make such decisions? Is administrative law part of a society's legal system? ^ In general, the technique for sociological inquiry into bureaucratic organizations and administrative processes is to study the formal structure of such agencies, the interactions among the participants (formal and informal), and the consequences of these actions (manifest and latent). The method employed in the current paper is an examination of the disciplinary systems of two executive agencies in order to determine the nature of adversarial and inquisitorial interactions among employees, clients, and members of the general public. ^ Each department concerned in the study is a highly organized bureaucracy regulated by formal, well-defined rules and regulations. The system of internal justice within each department is structurally similar to that of the regular court system with all due process rights accorded to respondents. Administrative trials are recorded, findings of fact are reported upon, and determinations concerning penalties meted out to offenders found guilty of violations are published within the general orders of the agencies concerned. Thus, the kinds of complaints lodged by aggrieved citizens or supervisory personnel and how these offenses are managed within the disciplinary system may be examined. In such cases, the sociology of law may provide a link between organization theory and administrative law in comprehending how such interactions are managed and conducted.^ It is submitted that this dissertation may provide the basis for further inquiry into the disciplinary processes of other bureaucratic organizations in both the public and private sectors of society. There are numerous associations, ostensibly private entities which actually affect the public, such as professional societies and unions that are fertile fields for sociological inquiry into administrative legal processes. ^

Subject Area

Public policy

Recommended Citation

HANRAHAN, JOSEPH JAMES, "DISCIPLINARY PROCESSES AS EXEMPLARS OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8123546.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8123546

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