Archive for the ‘Journal articles’ Category

Plum, M.
A ‘globalised’ curriculum – international comparative practices and the preschool child as a site of economic optimisation
(2014) Discourse, . Article in Press.

Globalisation is often referred to as being external to education – a state of affairs presenting the modern curriculum with numerous challenges. In this article, ‘globalisation’ is examined as something that is internal to curriculum and analysed as a problematisation in a Foucaultian sense, that is, as a complex of attentions, worries and ways of reasoning, producing curricular variables. The analysis is made through an example of early childhood curriculum in Danish preschool, and the way the curricular variable of the preschool child comes into being through ‘globalisation’ as a problematisation, carried forth by comparative practices such as Programme for International Student Assessment. It thus explores some of the systems of reason that educational comparative practices carry through time, focusing on the ways in which configurations are reproduced and transformed, forming the preschool child as a site of economic optimisation.

Author Keywords
comparative education; Foucault; globalisation; PISA; preschool

DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2013.871239

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Hope, A.
Schoolchildren, governmentality and national e-safety policy discourse
(2014) Discourse, . Article in Press.

The introduction of widespread school Internet access in industrialised countries has been accompanied by the materialisation of what can be labelled as a national school e-safety agenda. Drawing upon Foucault’s notions of discourse and governmentality, this paper explores how e-safety policy documents serve to constrain the conceptual environment, seeking to determine and limit individuals’ thoughts on this matter. Analysing UK and US government texts, it is argued that four main themes arise that subvert critical, informed debate about children online. Namely, the discursive construction of e-kids, the muting of schoolchildren’s voices, the responsibilisation of students and ‘diagnostic inflation’ through realist risk discourses. These issues can be interpreted as an attempt to engender control through particular strategies of governmentality. While recognising that students may resist such attempts at control, it is concluded that the issue of children’s digital rights need to be more prominent in e-safety policies.

Author Keywords
‘diagnostic inflation’; discourse; e-safety policy; Foucault; governmentality; responsibilisation; voice

DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2013.871237

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Enroth, H.
Governance: The art of governing after governmentality
(2014) European Journal of Social Theory, 17 (1), pp. 60-76.

As Michel Foucault and others have shown, from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, Western political discourse has perpetuated an art of governing aimed at societies and populations. This article argues that this modern art of governing is now coming undone, in the name of governance. The discourse on governance is taking us from an art of governing premised on producing policy for a society or a population to an art of governing premised on solving problems with no necessary reference to any kind of society or population. Tracing the evolution of that discourse, the article argues that existing social and political theory has failed to make sense of this shift. It concludes that in order to access and assess the new art of governing on its own terms we need a sociological imagination that stretches beyond societies and a political imaginary without the presupposition of collectivities.

Author Keywords
Foucault; global governance; governance; governmentality; policy

DOI: 10.1177/1368431013491818

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Skålevåg, S.A.
The irresponsible criminal in Norwegian medico-legal discourse
(2014) International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 37 (1), pp. 82-90.

This article discusses discourses on criminal responsibility in Norway in the 19th and 20th centuries, in light of Michel Foucault’s regimes of power and knowledge: the apparatuses of law, discipline and security. The passing of two criminal codes, in 1842 and 1902 marks a development from neo-classical law to a law influenced by positivist criminology. In these consecutive ways of thinking law, the figure of the irresponsible criminal constituted a contentious issue. From being a figure marking the limits of the law, the irresponsible criminal became an object to be disciplined and a security threat. This redefinition of criminal responsibility created or was created by new groups of experts speaking from positions increasingly close to the criminals. The most important professional group was of course the psychiatrists, that emerged in Norway as a distinct professional group in the second half of the 19th century, and whose influence in the legislative process culminated in the 1920s. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Author Keywords
Criminal law; Criminal responsibility; Forensic psychiatry; History; Norway

Index Keywords
article, criminal justice, criminal law, criminology, forensic psychiatry, government, history of medicine, medicolegal aspect, mental health, Norway, political system, psychiatrist, war

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2013.09.008

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Bryant, L., Garnham, B.
The embodiment of women in wine: Gender inequality and gendered inscriptions of the working body in a corporate wine organization
(2014) Gender, Work and Organization, . Article in Press.

This paper problematizes media representations that suggest women working in the traditionally patriarchal wine industry are no longer subject to structural constraints according to gender. It contributes theoretically driven empirical insights concerning the ways in which gender inequality is produced and embodied within a multinational wine organization. The paper draws on Acker’s framework for understanding inequality regimens and Foucault’s theorization of discourse and the body together with empirical data from interviews with women working at different hierarchical positions in the organization. The analysis examines the discursive inscription of the ideal body, weak bodies, reproducing bodies and home bodies to reveal the ways in which women’s working bodies are problematized and constituted as deviant in relation to masculine norms for working bodies. The analysis develops the argument that naturalized and normalized gendered discourses of the body conceal the structural relations of power that constitute an inequality regimen within the organization.

Author Keywords
Embodiment; Gender; Inequality regimen; Wine industry

DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12045

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Jennings, M.
Breaking free to the limit: Playing with Foucault, Otto, and pentecostal experience
(2014) Journal of Contemporary Religion, 29 (1), pp. 33-45.

This article explores different phenomenological approaches to understanding one of the central elements of Pentecostal spirituality: the ecstatic experience of the divine (often referred to as the encounter of the divine). The article begins with a description, based upon participant observation, of a typical church service at Breakfree Pentecostal church in suburban Perth, Western Australia. I then outline two phenomenological categories-one theistic, one non-theistic-which shed light on the significance of this experience. These categories are Rudolf Ottos numinous and Michel Foucaults limit experience. It is demonstrated that neither of these can be prioritised, as both require an a priori position on the status of the divine. Instead of choosing one or the other, it is argued that both Otto and Foucault provide a resource for understanding and assessing the Breakfree encounter. The article concludes with the observation that a more playful methodology-one that allows the scholar to draw on theistic and non-theistic categories simultaneously-is required.

DOI: 10.1080/13537903.2014.864801

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Matthew Chrulew, Pastoral counter-conducts: Religious resistance in Foucault’s genealogy of Christianity, Critical Research on Religion, April 2014 vol. 2 no. 1 55-65

doi: 10.1177/2050303214520776

The internal resistance to religious forms of power is often at issue in Michel Foucault’s genealogy of Christianity. For this anti-clerical Nietzschean, religion is, like science, always a battle over bodies and souls. In his 1978 Collège de France lectures, he traced the nature and descent of an apparatus of “pastoral power” characterized by confession, direction, obedience, and sacrifice. Governmental rationality, both individualizing and totalizing, is its modern descendant. At different moments, Foucault rather infamously opposed to the pastorate and governmentality such ethico-political spiritualities as the Iranian Revolution and ancient Greek ascesis, but he also took care to identify numerous forms of resistance specific and internal to Christianity itself. His lecture of 1 March 1978 outlined five examples of “insurrections of conduct”: “eschatology, Scripture, mysticism, the community, and ascesis.” I will detail Foucault’s analysis of pastoral counter-conducts, and explore how he sets up the nature and stakes of this tension within Christianity and its secular kin.

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Paul Hanna, Katherine Johnson, Paul Stenner, Matt Adams, Foucault, sustainable tourism, and relationships with the environment (human and nonhuman), GeoJournal, April 2014

doi: 10.1007/s10708-014-9557-7


Drawing on contemporary research into ethical consumption and sustainable tourism this article starts by outlining the ways in which sustainable tourism (and other forms of ethical consumption) has been understood as a means to perform class based distinctions. At this stage, it is suggested that whilst class may be one factor in understanding such a complex phenomena there might also be a need to examine the practices of sustainable tourist in a manner that takes seriously individual attempts to ‘be ethical’. Foucault’s understanding of ethics is then offered as a means through which this can be achieved. A brief account of the method used to read individuals accounts of sustainable tourism through an ethical Foucauldian lens is then presented. Following this the paper presents the analysis of interviews with sustainable tourists focusing on two key elements. Firstly, the analysis presents the emotional and reciprocal elements of interactions between sustainable tourists and the human ‘other’. Secondly the analysis examines the relationship between the sustainable tourist and non-human environments to further develop the understanding of the emotional and reciprocal elements in light of a Foucauldian ethics. In conclusion it is suggested that rather than merely representing a mode of class distinction, sustainable tourism can be understood through an appreciation of the emotional and reciprocal relationship with the other, thus taking seriously individuals attempts to engage with ethical practices.

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A brief genealogy of governmentality studies: the Foucault effect and its developments. An interview with Colin Gordon by Fabiana Jardim, Educação e Pesquisa, vol.39 no.4 São Paulo Oct./Dec. 2013

Full text available from this link

This interview approaches the intellectual context within the areas of philosophy and social sciences, in the 1970s United Kingdom, and also looks back to Colin Gordon’s work as a translator and editor of Michel Foucault’s researches on power and politics into English. Finally, it attempts to assess the developments of this strange notion of governmentality within the English-Speaking intellectual world and its relations to present times. The interview has taken place during Colin Gordon’s visit to Brazil for the “International Seminar Max Weber and Michel Foucault: possible convergences” (May, 2013). It aims to revisit the context in which the governmentality studies have appeared as a specific field of interest and research, in order to put in perspective the progressive spread of this field since the appearance, in 2004, of both Foucault’s lectures at Collége de France (Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of Biopolitics) where the notion is introduced. The possibility to know Colin Gordon’s ideas about these themes seemed timely not only because of the range of governmentality studies in education in Brazil (something that can be testified by the number of articles, thematic issues and books that are appearing since the 1990s), but also because of the manner in which the notion of governmentality has been taken by the post-colonial studies. In this sense, the notion still seems to be a very useful tool to confront the task of understanding the problems and problematizations that constitute the specificity of our Brazilian modernity.

Keywords: Governmentality – Governmentality studies – Michel Foucault – Political culture.

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Thinking Historically About Neoliberalism: Nick Gane’s response to Will Davies, Theory, Culture and Society, May 28, 2014

In 1971, Michel Foucault wrote a short polemic, entitled ‘Monstrosities in Criticism’, that took issue with reviews of Madness and Civilization and The Order of Things that had been published by Jean-Marc Pelorson and George Steiner. Foucault opened this piece with the statement that ‘There is criticism to which one responds, other criticism to which one replies’ (1971:57). While Foucault does not expand on this distinction, my own reading of this statement is that there is informed and constructive criticism that merits an engaged response, and ‘bad’ criticism that ‘deforms’ the text in question and for this reason deserves nothing more than a dismissive reply. You do not have to be Foucault or Steiner to feel the effects of these different types of criticism, and given a choice one always wants to be on the receiving end of the former. I am thus grateful to Will Davies for his careful reading of my recent article on the history of neoliberalism. I have learned much from Davies’ own work on this subject, in particular his recent book in the TCS book series, The Limits of Neoliberalism, which addresses many important points that I do not touch upon in my TCS article, including the concepts of sovereignty that underpin neoliberal forms of market governance, and notions of property rights and law that were pioneered by figures such as such as Ronald Coase and Harold Demsetz. My TCS article on Foucault’s lectures on biopolitics, however, had a different set of concerns: first, to consider the relation of neoliberal thought to 19th Century liberalism (i.e. what made it new or ‘neo-’); and second, to situate the emergence of neoliberal reason in the period between the two World Wars – two points of interest that do not feature in existing historical accounts by Mirowski and Plewhe, Peck, and Burgin.

A question which is raised implicitly by Davies is why it is necessary to use Foucault to think historically about neoliberalism in the first place. Davies describes Foucault’s Birth of Biopolitics as a ‘brilliant if somewhat jumbled series of lectures’ that ‘jump around to consider classical liberalism, the genealogy of “homo economicus” and the emergence of an 18th century “civil society”’. One could push this point further to say that there are real problems with the account of neoliberalism contained in these lectures (and they are just that – lectures – and so should not be read as Foucault’s final word on the subject). As I argue in the article, Foucault’s model of classical liberalism, which he inverts to produce his theory of neoliberal reason, is an odd one: it is drawn mainly from the work of Jeremy Bentham (although Adam Smith is re-introduced somewhat haphazardly in the final lectures of this series), rather than through consideration of other key figures such as John Stuart Mill, who was not only the most influential political liberal of the 19th Century (at least in Europe), but also the figure to which Mises and Hayek initially sought to respond. There are other oddities about Foucault’s engagement with political economy that I could not cover in this article. In The Order of Things, Foucault is concerned primarily with the work of Ricardo, but arguably the seismic epistemic shift in economic thinking happened later in the 19th Century with Mill, who, as Schabas (2006) has brilliant argued, was responsible for taking nature out of economics. There was also the marginalist revolution of the 1870s, and then, slightly later, the shift from political economy to a more formal style of economics following the publication of Alfred Marshall’s Principles of Economics in 1890. Other problems with Foucault’s lectures include his argument that post-War ordoliberalism has Weberian roots (something that is far from clear, not least because key figures from the Freiburg School were influenced more by the work of Schutz – a member of the Mises circle and briefly the Mont Pèlerin Society or MPS); his neglect of the role that Weberian sociology played in preparing the epistemological ground for the early work of Austrian thinkers such as Mises and Hayek (the latter was the first to attempt an English translation of Weber’s Economy and Society); and his apparent blindness to the organizational structures through which the neoliberal project operated (the most famous of these is the MPS, the role of which has since been documented in detail by Mirowski and Plewhe, 2009). Foucault’s lectures on biopolitics, then, are not without their problems.

To make matters worse, it has recently become fashionable to read Foucault as a neoliberal; as someone who was seduced by the forms of neoliberal reason that he attempted to document in these lectures. François Ewald, a former assistant of Foucault and a key figure in the management of his literary estate, is one of the main culprits here. Ewald’s view is that Foucault was an apologist for neoliberalism, and in particular the brand of American neoliberal reason popularised by Gary Becker (as Davies says, see http://vimeo.com/43984248). Becker’s own view was that while he agreed with much of Foucault’s account of neoliberalism, he could not tell whether Foucault, for his part, had sympathised with the tenets of Chicago School economics. Phil Mirowski, possibly the most outspoken commentator on this matter, takes the position that ultimately Foucault did share ‘quite a bit of common ground’ with neoliberal doctrines, not least because he portrayed the market as the ‘sole legitimate site for the production of knowledge of the whole; in other words, an absent deity rendered in a manner no different from Hayek or Stigler or Friedman or Buchanan’ (2013:97-8). But what is noticeable about all the above statements is their distance from the actual text of Foucault’s lectures. For the record, what did Foucault actually say? In relation to Becker, he states that the American neoliberals ‘apply, or at any rate try to apply economic analysis to a series of objects, to domains of behaviour or conduct which were not market forms of conduct…’. And adds: ‘This of course raises the question of both theory and method, the problem of the legitimacy of applying such an economic model, the practical problem of the heuristic value of this model, etcetera’ (2008:267-8). So the legitimacy of the application of economic analysis to non-economic phenomena is not something to be accepted blindly but is to be questioned. Likewise, where Foucault examines the emergence of the market as ‘a site of truth’ or ‘veridiction’ from the 18th Century onwards (see 2008:31-3), this is hardly an endorsement of this development but rather a call to question the positioning of ‘the market’ within classical liberal and then neoliberal modes or ‘arts’ of governance.

It makes little sense to characterise Foucault as a neoliberal because he attempted to document different national trajectories of neoliberal reason. Rather, a more productive step, for me at least, is to use his work as a starting point for thinking historically and critically about the neoliberal project. The aim of my article was thus to refine and extend Foucault’s genealogy of neoliberal reason instead of simply focusing on its gaps and inaccuracies – of which, as I have argued above, there are many. In particular, I wanted to consider the type of 19th Century liberalism which Mises and then Hayek sought to reject. Against Foucault, I situated Mill rather than Bentham as the key figure who, in the eyes of Mises and Hayek, corrupted classical liberalism with socialist ideals. Davies is right to observe that the significance of positioning Mill in this way is not fully considered in my paper. This is partly because of the complexity of Mill’s own thought – from his early (Comtean) System of Logic through to his later Principles of Political Economy, which was extensively revised from its initial publication in 1848 through to Mill’s death in 1873. Davies rightly asks what a ‘Millian’ governmental rationality might look like. Again this depends on what part of Mill you read, but potentially there is in Mill a critique of the idea of market-led government that becomes so important in early neoliberal writings. Alan Ryan argues, for example, that, for Mill

The market is not in general an effective mechanism either within or between different localized governments, because so much of government is a matter of attending to public goods that the market will not provide or of coping with market failures, such as by ensuring the cost of negative externalities falls on those who cause them and that the creation of positive externalities brings some reward to those who create them (2012:379).

The contemporary relevance of this statement, post-crash, is clear to see, as is the reason why neither neoliberals such as Hayek nor libertarians such as Mises were sympathetic to Mill. Mill’s egalitarian concern for political rather than economic liberty was a source of irritation to Mises and to a lesser extent Hayek, and for this reason, among others, it is worth revisiting his political economy. For example, if neoliberalism emerged out of Mill’s weak socialism, what might the Left learn from the grounds of this rejection, and how might it respond? This question of finding the ground to respond politically to neoliberalism is very much one of our times, but at the same time is one that has a history, and this history can potentially be mined in order to open out political possibilities and strategies in the present.

This leads, finally, to the question of the type of history at stake in writing a Foucauldian-style genealogy. Why not write a brief history of neoliberalism of the kind offered by David Harvey, which focuses most of its attention on life after Thatcher and Reagan? And does it matter, as Davies asks, if neoliberalism has its origins in the inter-War or post-WW2 period? Here, I would side with Foucault and argue that to understand the neoliberal project, including its epistemology, its economic and political rationalities, its thresholds, and potential points of instability and disturbance, it is necessary to do so historically, and to do so by understanding the conditions of its emergence and then the lines of descent that developed subsequently. This type of approach will not appeal to everyone, particularly to those who want (or wanted) to think about the recent crisis as a point of rupture that contained the promise of a decisive break from the past. Instead, for me, history is a resource for thinking critically about the present, rather than a distraction from the politics of the ‘now’. The challenge is to think about the new or neo- in terms of its continuities as well as the discontinuities that signal the emergence of a qualitatively different situation. History is a reminder that the epistemological and political basis of neoliberalism, as well as its organization through think-tanks that connected figures such as Hayek to front-bench politics, was forged out of a long struggle against classical liberal ideas, on the one hand, and leftist ideas (including those of Saint-Simon, Marx and Mill) on the other. It is for this reason that Foucault’s lectures on biopolitics, however flawed, remain a vital tool for questioning the complex arts of neoliberal governance that are at work through and beyond the current crisis; arts of government which are present both in the life of the state, as Davies says, and in the operation of a certain style of economic thought that continues to have a near-hegemonic grip over popular politics and discourse today.


Foucault, M. (1971). ‘Monstrosities in Criticism’. Diacritics, 1, 1, Autumn, pp.67-60.

Foucault, M. (2008). The Birth of Biopolitics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Mirowski, P. (2013). Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste. London: Verso.

Mirowski, P. and Plehwe, D. (eds.) (2009). The Road From Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Ryan, A. (2012). The Making of Modern Liberalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Schabas, M. (2006). The Natural Origins of Economics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nicholas Gane is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. His most recent book is Max Weber and Contemporary Capitalism (2012).

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