Archive for the ‘Journal articles’ Category

Colin Gordon has recently set up a profile on Academia.edu and is gradually uploading his collected works to this site. There are currently 20 items on this site with more to come. Most of these works are on Foucault. Some of the uploaded items include material which was not included in the published versions. For example:

Introduction (uncut version) to Michel Foucault, The Essential Works 3: Power, ed. James D Faubion. New Press, 2000

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Michael C. Behrent, Liberalism without humanism: Michel Foucault and the free-market creed, 1976–1979, Modern Intellectual History / Volume 6 / Issue 03 / November 2009, pp 539 – 568


Editor’s note: This article appears in French translation in the recent volume edited by Daniel Zamora Critiquer Foucault, Les années 1980 et la tentation néo-libérale, Aden, Bruxelles, 2014. This volume will appear in English translation later this year. With thanks to Stuart Elden at Progressive Geographies for details on this article.


This article challenges conventional readings of Michel Foucault by examining his fascination with neoliberalism in the late 1970s. Foucault did not critique neoliberalism during this period; rather, he strategically endorsed it. The necessary cause for this approval lies in the broader rehabilitation of economic liberalism in France during the 1970s. The sufficient cause lies in Foucault’s own intellectual development: drawing on his long-standing critique of the state as a model for conceptualizing power, Foucault concluded, during the 1970s, that economic liberalism, rather than “discipline,” was modernity’s paradigmatic power form. Moreover, this article seeks to clarify the relationship between Foucault’s philosophical antihumanism and his assessment of liberalism. Rather than arguing (as others have) that Foucault’s antihumanism precluded a positive appraisal of liberalism, or that the apparent reorientation of his politics in a more liberal direction in the late 1970s entailed a partial retreat from antihumanism, this article contends that Foucault’s brief, strategic, and contingent endorsement of liberalism was possible precisely because he saw no incompatibility between antihumanism and liberalism—but only liberalism of the economic variety. Economic liberalism alone, and not its political iteration, was compatible with the philosophical antihumanism that is the hallmark of Foucault’s thought.

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Foucault’s dispositive: The perspicacity of dispositive analytics in organizational research, Organization September 17, 2014
doi: 10.1177/1350508414549885

Sverre Raffnsøe
Marius Gudmand-Høyer
Morten S. Thaning

A full version of this paper can be found here


While Foucault’s work has had a crucial impact on organizational research, the analytical potential of the dispositive has not been sufficiently developed. The purpose of this article is to reconstruct the notion of the dispositive as a key conception in Foucault’s thought, particularly in his lectures at the Collège de France, and to develop dispositional analytics with specific reference to matters of organization. Foucault’s dispositional analysis articulates a history of interrelated social technologies that have been constructed to organize how we relate to each other. The article distinguishes various dispositional prototypes. It shows how dispositional analytics leads the way beyond general periodizations and established dichotomies such as the either-or of the discursive and non-discursive, power and freedom, determinism, and agency; and it demonstrates how dispositional analytics can contribute to a more complex understanding of organizational dynamics, power, strategy, resistance, and critique. Dispositional analytics allows for a new interpretation and use of Foucault in relation to organization studies.


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Magnus Paulsen Hansen Non-normative critique: Foucault and pragmatic sociology as tactical re-politicization, European Journal of Social Theory December 21, 2014

doi: 10.1177/1368431014562705


The close ties between modes of governing, subjectivities and critique in contemporary societies challenge the role of critical social research. The classical normative ethos of the unmasking researcher unravelling various oppressive structures of dominant vs. dominated groups in society is inadequate when it comes to understand de-politicizing mechanisms and the struggles they bring about. This article argues that only a non-normative position can stay attentive to the constant and complex evolution of modes of governing and the critical operations actors themselves engage in. The article outlines a non-normative but critical programme based on an ethos of re-politicizing contemporary pervasive modes of governing. The analytical advantages and limitations of such a programme are demonstrated by readings of both Foucauldian studies and the works of and debates regarding the French pragmatic sociology of Boltanski and Thévenot.

Keywords: Boltanski critique Foucault politics pragmatic sociology re-politicizing Thévenot unmasking

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Jason Maxwell, Killing Yourself to Live: Foucault, Neoliberalism, and the Autoimmunity Paradigm, Cultural Critique, Number 88, Fall 2014, pp. 160-186 10.1353/cul.2014.0038

Further info

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Since the English translation first appeared in 2008, Michel Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics has become an object of intense fascination within academic circles. While any new translation of Foucault’s work reliably draws a substantial crowd, this lecture series from 1979 solicited more attention than usual because its contents resonated so strongly with the present historical moment. Indeed, The Birth of Bio-politics staged a long-awaited confrontation between two hugely influential discourses. In one corner stood Foucault, who even two decades after his death still received more citations than any other thinker in the ever left-leaning humanities. In the other corner stood neoliberalism, the economic doctrine that had underwritten American conservative political practice since Reagan. Released while a financial crisis was quickly dismantling the global economy, The Birth of Biopolitics shouldered a heavy burden of expectation. Could Foucault’s lectures land a clear and decisive blow to the conceptual foundations of neoliberalism, thereby signaling the end of one nightmarish era and the beginning of a more hopeful one?

The answer, in short, was no. For those anticipating an outright critique of neoliberalism, The Birth of Biopolitics proved to be an undeniable disappointment. Since the lectures actually preceded the election of Margaret Thatcher—lending the book an eerily prescient quality—Foucault could be forgiven for failing to detail the deleterious effects of neoliberalization that would begin in the 1980s. That the lectures refrained from adopting a clear stance toward the neoliberal principles underwriting this process, however, was less forgivable. Although he provides an excruciatingly detailed genealogy of neoliberalism, Foucault never distances himself from this material to offer a summary judgment or word of warning. In fact, Foucault’s engagement with neoliberalism frustrates the desire to place him in a camp that would either firmly reject or proudly affirm it. As he writes elsewhere, “there is not, on the one side, a discourse of power, and opposite it, another discourse that runs counter to it. … [Discourses] can, on the contrary, circulate without changing their form from one strategy to another, opposing strategy” (1980a, 101–2). Foucault shares more in common with neoliberal thinking than many critics would be comfortable admitting. More specifically, while most critiques of neoliberalism target its economism, which casts everything from personal health to familial relationships in the vocabulary of the market, Foucault’s own work also seems to subscribe to these premises. Put in slightly different terms, Foucault’s understanding of historical change, which privileges immanence over transcendence, could easily be characterized as economistic. If Foucault and neoliberalism both deploy an economistic mode of thinking that is rooted in a shared commitment to immanence, where does their work actually diverge? Examining Foucault’s treatment of neoliberalism will not only clarify our understanding of neoliberalism (and why it interested Foucault) but also our understanding of Foucault’s general project.

While acknowledging their many striking similarities, this essay argues that Foucault differs from neoliberal orthodoxy in at least one crucial respect. To echo Fredric Jameson in Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, “we have much in common with the neoliberals, in fact virtually everything—save the essentials!” (265). Foucault’s essential difference from neoliberalism can be found in a crucial yet largely overlooked dimension of his engagement with Nietzsche and others concerning immunization as a broad conceptual category. Throughout his work, Foucault explores the dilemmas that emerge when phenomena that promise safety and growth simultaneously present the possibility of injury or even death. For instance, individuals and societies require defense mechanisms for their survival and development, yet the overgrowth of these mechanisms can actually produce harmful or deadly effects. Just as importantly, these defense mechanisms do not shield the individual or community from danger altogether but instead expose them to it in a manageable amount. The difference between poison and cure is one of degree rather than kind. Roberto Esposito has recently argued that this “autoimmunity paradigm” serves as a useful way of diagnosing a variety of phenomena far removed from the term’s medical and juridical origins. He writes that the “demand for exemption or protection” embodied in the auto-immunity paradigm has been gradually “extended to all those other sectors and languages…

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Mitchell Dean, Michel Foucault’s ‘apology’ for neoliberalism. Lecture delivered at the British Library on the 30th anniversary of the death of Michel Foucault, June 25, 2014, Journal of Political Power, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2014, pages 433-442

Further info

Link to full paper on academia.edu

This lecture evaluates the claim made by one of his closest followers, François Ewald, that Foucault offered an apology for neoliberalism, particularly of the American school represented by Gary Becker. It draws on exchanges between Ewald and Becker in 2012 and 2013 at the University of Chicago shortly before the latter’s death. It places Foucault in relation to the then emergent Second Left in France, the critique of the welfare state, and, more broadly, the late-twentieth-century social-democratic take-up of neoliberal thought. It indicates three limitations of his thought: the problem of state ‘veridiction’; the question of inequality; and the concept of the economy. It also indicates how these might be addressed within a general appreciation of his thought.

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Ahmad Mohammed Bani Salameh, Foucault’s Descending Individuation: The Unprivileged Under Panoptic Gaze in Shakespeare and Godwin, Dirasat: Human and Social Sciences, Vol 41, No 3 (2014)

Further info and link to full PDF


This paper presents new critical insights into two selected literary works from the English literature, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and William Godwin’s Caleb Williams, in light of Michel Foucault’s “descending individuation” in Discipline and Punish. Through the lens of this theory, this study illumines these writers’ scathing critique of “descending individuation” in their cultures in which surveillance of individuals goes in an inverse relationship with their socio-economic statuses-namely, the lower one’s social and economic station is, the more liable s/he becomes to panoptic gaze. This paper shows these authors’ dissatisfaction with the flawed justice system of their culture, because surveillance, usually a disciplinary law-enforcement strategy, could backfire if enforced in a descending, prejudiced fashion.


Foucault, Descending, Individuation, Disciplinary, Surveillance, Godwin, Shakespeare

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