Introduction to Riggsian theory

Every culture offers support and obstacles to change and development. Riggs wanted to demonstrate how external conditions influence administrative systems.

Three Tools:

  1. Ecological approach
  2. Structural – Functional
  3. Ideal models.

Ecological Approach: Administration is one subsystem of a society and so is influenced by other subsystems viz. political, social, cultural and economic dimensions.

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 subsystem.

Ideal Models: Based on structural functional models. There are two models:

  1. Agraria – Industria
  2. Fused – Prismatic – Diffracted.

Agraria – Industria Model

All societies are either agro dominant or industrial. The shift from agro to industrial is compulsory and unidirectional.

Agriculture dominantIndustrial dominant
Ascriptive values i.e. people are placed in social classes based on birth or other factors.achievement oriented classification
particularistic normsuniversalistic norms
diffuse patternsspecific patterns
stable local groups and low spatial mobilityhigh mobility
simple occupational differentiationegalitarian class system
Few administration structures. Function not specified. Primordial preferences given priority like caste 


  1. Transitia society less developed. Doesnt help in examining it.
  2. No mechanism to study mixed society
  3. Even industrial society have agriculture
  4. Assumes unidirectional movement
  5. Stresses on environment of administration system not administration systems.
  6. 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:

  1. 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 revolution.
  2. Formalism: The difference between stated and practised is high. thus bureaucracy plays dominant role in policy making as executive is busy in power politics.