Chapter 5: RIGGS
Introduction to Riggsian theory
Every culture offers support and obstacles to change and
development. Riggs wanted to demonstrate how external
conditions influence administrative systems.
- Ecological approach
- Structural - Functional
- Ideal models.
Ecological Approach: Administration is one
subsystem of a society and so is influenced by other
subsystems viz. political, social, cultural and economic
Structural Functional Approach: Society
has many structures that perform various functions viz.
political, economic, social, symbolic, communicational. The
same set of functional requisites apply to a administrative
Ideal Models: Based on structural
functional models. There are two models:
- Agraria - Industria
- Fused - Prismatic - Diffracted.
Agraria - Industria Model
All societies are either agro dominant or industrial. The
shift from agro to industrial is compulsory and
|Ascriptive values i.e.
people are placed in social classes based on birth or
|stable local groups and low spatial mobility
|simple occupational differentiation
||egalitarian class system
|Few administration structures. Function not
specified. Primordial preferences given priority like
- Transitia society less developed. Doesnt help in
- No mechanism to study mixed society
- Even industrial society have agriculture
- Assumes unidirectional movement
- Stresses on environment of administration system not
- Too general and abstract.
Fused Prismatic Diffracted Model
Represents underdeveloped, developed and developing
societies. Traditionally agriculture, folk, societies are
fused, industrial societies are diffracted and intermediate
ones are fused. Thus fused society is where a single
structure performs many functions and diffracted one is
where a single structure performs limited functions.
Prismatic model of developing countries:
- Heterogeneity: It means a society is
divided into haves and have nots. the bureaucracy would
protect interest of haves and ignore havenots leading to a
- Formalism: The difference between
stated and practised is high. thus bureaucracy plays
dominant role in policy making as executive is busy in
- Overlapping:New structures are still
dominated by old systems. thus parliament, markets are
present but still dominated by family, caste, traditions
Fig 1: Fused diffracted
Prismatic Sala model
Riggs analyzed interaction
between the administration system and its environment in
prismatic societies. His Prismatic Sala model represents
a traditional or developing society and 'Sala' is the
administrative sub-system of it.
Features of Prismatic
- Heterogeneity: High degree of
heterogeneity in a prismatic society due to
simultaneous presence of different kinds of systems,
practices and viewpoints.
- Formalism: High degree; due to
discrepancy between formally prescribed and
effectively practices i.e. between norms and reality.
- Overlapping: High degree; due to
formally differentiated structures of a diffracted
society co-exist with a undifferentiated structures of
a fused society.
- Nepotism: 'Sala' has nepotism in
- Poly-normative: Co-existence of
modern, traditional norms leading to lack of consensus
on norms of behavior.
- Poly-communal: Hostile
co-existence of communities.
- Bazaar canteen system: The
economic subsystem which combines both market economy
and traditional economy. Hence prices of goods keep
fluctuating. A small section exploits a large number
and controls economic institutions. Prices of goods is
determined by relationship between people and
officials so it varies largely. In this model, market
factors are developed without increase in capital so
businessmen try to increase their influence on
politics and administration for personal ends. Black
market, adulteration, hoarding, inflation is seen.
Exploitation, poverty, social injustice are main
- Authority and Control:Authority is
centralized but control is localized so dominance of
administrators is seen.
Change in a prismatic society:
- Pace of development is related to sources of change.
Western societies change their effective behavior to
evolving behavior as they have longer timespan for
development. Hence they experience low heterogeneity,
formalism and overlapping.
- Change can be exogenous, endogenous or equigenous.
An exogenous society faces more heterogeneity,
formalism and overlapping than endogenous as the
effective behavior precedes establishment of new
formal institutions in endogenous.
- Prismatic societies face problems of greater
heterogeneity, formalism and overlapping in their bid
to absorb exogenous change in shortest time.
- Difficulty in language and terms borrowed from
- Lack of change orientation i.e. equilibrium models
and so not helpful in introducing social change in
- No quantitative levels to measure levels of
prismatic and diffraction.
- Focus on negative character of prismatic society.
- Societies are characterized into fused, prismatic,
diffracted on basis of capitalist values and so no