Dictionnaire de la Science Politique

Authors: Hermet, Badie, Birnbaum & Braud
Summary: In 235 words a definition in weberian terms of charisma is given. It is distinguished both from the traditional and the legal-rational forms of exerting power. Charisma is based on the possession, or on the attribution, of extraordinary qualities by a leader to whom authority is legitimately recognized and who receives obedience thanks to these qualities even in absence of rules or other obligations.
The charismatic power differs from the traditional and the legal-rational ones because it acts on an emotional and not structured community.
Being vocational, charisma has a revolutionary nature and can be able to give birth to new political regimes. However it is not completely immune from an istitutionalization process which society produces in order to guarantee its own stability. In this case, as charisma is not reproducible, the only possible istitutionalization is the inheritage of the office, which is obviously a paradox.