ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Alexander M. Osipov Doctor of Sociology, Professor,
A. I. Hertzen Russian State Pedagogical University, St. Petersburg, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0002-9314-389X
Priorities of studying education in the light of the problem of bureaupathologies.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 2. P. 15-33

The study was funded by the Russian Science Foundation and the St. Petersburg Science Foundation (grant no. 23-28-10010) on the basis of the Russian State Pedagogical University. A. I. Herzen.

Дата поступления статьи: 22.02.2023
Topic: Processes of formalization (bureaucratization) in Russian education

For citation:
Osipov A. M. Priorities of studying education in the light of the problem of bureaupathologies. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 2. P. 15-33


The author proves the need to put forward the problem of bureaupathology as a priority for Russian research in education and educational policy. Based on the analysis of foreign and domestic sources, the article summarises the assessments of bureaupathologies in the field of education as phenomena that acquired an institutional form in the post-Soviet period (fixed in the legal, technological, cultural, value and organisational structures of Russian education). The author identified the prerequisites for bureaupathology in the era of neoliberal transformations that also engulfed the Russian education sector: the deterioration of the socio-economic situation and massive labour overloads for the majority of personnel who are not protected from overtime work; unrestrained by legal and socio-political mechanisms the concentration of powers of top management and the increase in its explicit and latent privileges, that reduces the effectiveness of management and generates bureaucratic abuses; the growth of the social interest of "universal management" in rooting its omnipotence and the spread of active paper pressure as a system management technology; the trend of tightening bureaucratic control against the backdrop of the education crisis - rising costs, declining quality, social accessibility and public return, loss of human resources. The article names the tools of bureaucracy used to achieve and assert its dominant position in education as a multi-level industry with millions of employees and colossal intellectual and creative resources: concentration of administrative powers; imitation of their activity and usefulness; reliance on the formal legal base and the departure of scientific management; avoidance of responsibility and depersonalisation of management due to the priority of regulations over real management efficiency; administrative pressure on lower levels, leading most of the staff into a state of paper genocide. The sociology of education plays a key role in studying bureaupathologies and their conditioning, the social instruments used by bureaucrats, proving their dysfunctionality, ways to prevent them in politics and leading education out of the crisis caused by bureaucracy. The sociology of education will be able to fulfil its role if the problem of bureaupathology is recognised as a priority, if it is introduced into the problem field of new education research, if a practice-oriented concept of bureaupathology is developed, and if the prerequisites that give rise to it are systematically eliminated.


education, bureaucracy, management, bureaupathology, scientific priorities

  1. Alferov J. I. Authority with no Brains. Alienation of Science from State. Moscow, Rodina, 2019: 256 (in Russ.).
  2. Babintsev V. P., Gaidukova G. N., Shapoval Zh. A. Russian university bureaucracy — terra incognita for sociology of education. RUDN Journal of Sociology, 2022: 4: 895–908 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.22363/2313-2272-2022-22-4-895-908.
  3. Global Sociology of Education. Ed. by V. A. Ivanova, A. M. Osipov. Veliky Novgorod, NovSU, 2012: 346 (in Russ.).
  4. Global Conflict and the Contours of a New World Order. XX International Likhachev scientific conference. St. Petersburg, SPbGUP, 2022: 628 (in Russ.).
  5. Grigoriev S. I., Matveeva N. A. Neklassicheskaya sociologiya obrazovaniya nachala XXI veka [Non-classical sociology of education at the beginning of the XXI century]. Barnaul, ARRC RAO, 2000: 158 (in Russ.).
  6. Guseva A. I., Kalashnik V. M., Kaminskij V. I., Kireev S. V. Research Leadership of the Program “Priority-2030”: Factors of Success. Vysshee obrazovanie v Rossii, 2022: 1: 42–58 (in Russ.) DOI: 10.31992/0869-3617-2022-31-1-42-58.
  7. Ivanova V. A., Matveeva N. A., Osipov A. M., Rysakova P. I. Sovremennaya sociologiya obrazovaniya v Rossii: nekotorye itogi i problemy razvitiya [Contemporary Sociology of Education in Russia: Some Results and Development Problems]. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2013: 5: 95–103 (in Russ.).
  8. Osipov A. M. Bureaupathology and Paper Pressing in Russian Education. Vestnik RUDN. Ser.: Sotsiologiya, 2020: 4: 953–966 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.22363/2313-2272-2020-20-4-953-966.
  9. Osipov A. M. Towards a Theory of Educational Policy. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2022: 2: 23–33 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.31857/S013216250018498-0.
  10. Osipov A. M. Market Mechanisms - a Social Deadlock of Russian Education. Vysshee obrazovanie v Rossii, 2019: 5: 62–73 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.31992/0869-3617-2019-28-5-63-72.
  11. Osipov A. M. The “Trojan Horses” of Neoliberalism in Education. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2017: 8: 137–148 (in Russ.).
  12. Osipov A. M., Ivanova V. A. Institucionalnye funkcii – «porogovaya» problema sociologii obrazovaniya [Institutional Functions – a “Threshold” Problem of Sociology of Education]. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2016: 1: 117–124 (in Russ.).
  13. Osipov A. M., Matveev V. V., Matveeva N. A., Voronczova T. I. School Administrators: Agents and Victims of Paper Pressing. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2021: 9: 72–80 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.31857/S013216250014215-9.
  14. Osipov A. M., Matveeva N. A., Boyadzhieva P. A., Vorontsov Ya. A. Russian Education in Paper Abyss: an Attempt of Sociological Analysis. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2020: 3: 60–70 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.31857/S013216250008798-0.
  15. Openness of the state in Russia – 2020. Expert report of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. Moscow, 2021: 68 (in Russ.).
  16. Smolin O. N. Vysshee obrazovanie: borba za kachestvo ili pokushenie na chelovecheskij potencial? [Higher Education: Struggle for Quality or an Attempt on the Human Potential]. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya, 2015: 6: 91–101; 7: 30–37 (in Russ.).
  17. Sociology of Education: textbook and practicum for universities. Ed. by A. M. Osipov. 2nd ed. Moscow, URAIT, 2020: 424 (in Russ.).
  18. Trubnikova E. I. Red Tapes in the Sphere of Science and Education. Vysshee obrazovanie v Rossii, 2018: 1: 108–121 (in Russ.).
  19. Trubnikova E. I. The Exchange of Gifts in the Academic Sphere: Predatory Practices, False Signals, and Conflict of Interests in Excellence Programs. Mir Rossii. Sociologiya. Etnologiya, 2022: 1: 25–48 (in Russ.). DOI: 10.17323/1811-038X-2022-31-1-25-48.
  20. School in Paper Abyss: the Crisis of Information Flows in Education: a collective monograph. Ed. by A. M. Osipov. RSF, Veliky Novgorod, Vikont, 2020: 351 (in Russ.).
  21. Binns Ch. A. Bureaupathology and Organizational Fraud Prevention. CUNY Academic Works, 2014: 327.
  22. Binns Ch. A. Fraud Hotlines: Design, Performance, and Assessment. Ebook. Boka Raton, 2017: 320. DOI: 10.1201/9781315370361.
  23. Caiden G. E. What Really is Public Maladministration? Public Administration Review,1991:51 (6): 486–493.
  24. Fitzgerald T. The Tyranny of Bureaucracy. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 2009: 37 (1): 51–65. DOI: 10.1177/1741143208098164.
  25. Humes W. The “Iron Cage” of Educational Bureaucracy. British Journal of Educational Studies, 2022: 70 (2): 235–253. DOI: 10.1080/00071005.2021.1899129.
  26. Ntanos A. S., Boulouta K. Bureaucracy-bureaupathology in education and administration. International Journal of Strategic Change Management, 2012: 4 (2): 129–138. DOI: 10.1504/IJSCM.2012.046502.
  27. Osipov A. M. “Paper Wave”, “Paper Pressing” and “Paper Genocide” as Applicable to the Russian Education System. Balkan Journal of Philosophy, 2020: 12 (2): 119–124. DOI: 10.5840/bjp202012214.
  28. Parlar H., Cansoy R. The Effect of Bureaucratic School Structure on Teacher Leadership Culture: A Mixed Study. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 2017: 17 (6): 2175–2201. DOI: 10.12738/estp.2017.6.0150.
  29. Spector H. Bureaucratization, education and the meanings of responsibility. Curriculum Inquiry, 2018: 48 (5): 503–520. DOI: 10.1080/03626784.2018.1547615.
  30. Thompson V. A. Modern Organization. Vol. 12. University of Alabama Press, 1977: 222.