Zone of Impeachment: A Post-Foucauldian Analysis of Controlled Operations Law and Policy (2015)

Murphy, Brendon (2015), Zone of Impeachment: A Post-Foucauldian Analysis of Controlled Operations Law and Policy, PhD
University of Newcastle. Faculty of Business & Law, Newcastle Law School

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This thesis presents a Post-Foucauldian analysis of Australian controlled operations law. The purpose was to extend current doctrinal scholarship by exploring the discursive forces that shape this highly invasive and controversial investigative power. This thesis contends that the present doctrinal understanding is incomplete, and largely unaware of the epistemological forces operating within law and policy. By deploying a Post-Foucauldian analytic we can extend our understanding of the complex relationship between knowledge systems, discourse, power and law. Through the deployment of a nomadic, grounded genealogy in the analysis of controlled operations Second Reading Speeches, this research found that the governing rationalities of controlled operations law and policy is linked to an imperative logic dominated by discourses of risk, audit and exceptions. This dynamic explains why controlled operations legal architecture and policy is in its current form. Far from being a reaction to the decision in Ridgeway, controlled operations law is part of a legal and cultural shift in law enforcement, characterised by complex relationships between risk, rights, law and citizenship. The controlled operation is revealed as a form of apparatus: a technology of truth and power, facilitated by law. This insight allows us to reimagine the relationship between law, rights, citizenship and sovereignty in late modernity. In this environment the investigative apparatus of the controlled operation creates a field of governance within the private space of liberal citizenship, revealing the true character of citizenship in late modernity as a zone of impeachment – a location in which rights are fragile and open to perpetual potential derogation and modification. In this zone the rights attached to liberal conceptions of citizenship are increasingly the subject of subordination to a risk imperative and a logic of exception.

Theses and dissertations

Archive: Exploring Michel Foucault’s Move from Power and Knowledge to Ethics and the Self (2014)

Kurt Borg, ‘Exploring Michel Foucault’s Move from Power and Knowledge to Ethics and the Self’, Dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Arts in Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Malta, February 2014

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In this dissertation, I will consider the multiple trajectories of the thought of Michel Foucault in the 1970s and 1980s, offering an approach through which his writings on power and knowledge on one hand, and ethics and the self on the other can be understood fruitfully in relation to each other without being seen as representing a radical break in his work. I will do this by, first, locating the question of the subject and its formation within Foucault’s works on disciplinary power and sexuality, paving the way for this question to be revisited through his later writings on ethics. I will then consider how the development of Foucault’s ideas on power into biopower and governmentality enable an approach through which continuity within Foucault’s works can be identified through the rel ations between power, conduct and modes of individualisation. This will lead to considering Foucault’s genealogy of ethics and the modern subject not as a departure from his earlier ideas, but as the culmination of his interest in analysing knowledge, power and ethics. I will consider but go beyond the notions of aesthetics of existence and care of the self in Foucault’s discussion of ancient Greek and Hellenistic ethics in order to deal with his ideas on parrhēsia and truth-telling from his final lecture courses at the Collège De France that show that his late ideas reflect his earlier concerns. Therefore, by appealing to the conceptual developments within his writings as well as his approach to philosophical analysis, Foucault’s philosophical projects need not be seen as disparate and so the issue of continuity in his work can be raised and positively viewed.

Theses and dissertations

The Normalising Power of Marriage Law: An Irish Genealogy 1945 – 2010. (2015)

McGowan, Deirdre (2015) The Normalising Power of Marriage Law: An Irish Genealogy, 1945 – 2010. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.


Marriage law is often conceptualised as an instrument of power that illegitimately imposes the will of the State on its citizens. Paradoxically, marriage law is also offered as a route to liberation. In this thesis, I question the efficacy of this type of analysis by investigating the actual power effects of marriage law. Using Michel Foucault’s concepts of bio-power and government, and his genealogical approach to history, I identify the role played by marriage law in governing the social domain over a discrete period of Irish history. Drawing on this analysis, I suggest that marriage law is part of a dense network of power relationships that cannot be reduced to a binary relationship of oppression and liberation. Rather, marriage law acts, in conjunction with other techniques of government, to conduct conformity in social behaviour.

Until the 1960s, marriage was considered a fully social matter outside the jurisdiction of politics. With the adoption of a Keynesian economic model at the end of the 1950s the welfare of the population became a matter of political concern. In the 1970s, the vulnerable dependent wife emerged as an object of regulation and marriage law was enacted to protect her through enforcement of the obligations of morally bound, gendered, lifetime marriage. The need to protect this form of marriage drove further reform of marriage law in the 1980s and divorce legislation enacted in 1997. An increasingly rationalised, economic approach to government, adopted following ratification of the Maastricht treaty, required the deployment of social scientific knowledge by government. Within the domain of family life, science connected social stability to relationship stability. Marriage law reform in the 2000s, therefore aimed to promote stability in relationship behaviour by acknowledging, regulating, and promoting relationship practices that performed lifetime marriage. Over the research period, marriage law operated as one among many techniques of government that installed a detailed apparatus of surveillance and control around individual lives, with the objective and effect of conducting conformity in relationship behaviour.

Theses and dissertations

Archive: From aboriginality to governmentality: the meaning of section 35(1) and the power of legal discourse (1998)

Hannigan, David, (1998) From aboriginality to governmentality: the meaning of section 35(1) and the power of legal discourse, Master of Laws thesis, University of British Columbia

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This thesis examines recent doctrinal developments regarding the aboriginal and treaty rights which are recognised and affirmed in s.35(l) of the Constitution Act, 1982. Specifically, it explores how the meaning of such rights is being constituted by diverse relations of power operating within specific ‘cites’ of struggle.

Chapter I is a brief introduction to recent transformations in the legal discourse of the Supreme Court and an overview of the methodologies being employed in this thesis. In this regard, the author undertakes an interdisciplinary approach to discourse analysis.

Chapter II draws upon the writings of Michel Foucault to make the argument for the analytical framework being utilised; namely, the study of ‘law’ within a ‘sovereign- discipline-government’ society.

Chapter III examines the relationship between the productive power of the disciplines and the legal discourse constituting the content of aboriginal rights; the purpose being to explore to what extent law ‘operates as a norm’ within this area. Additionally, it provides a lead into the discussion of ‘government’ by outlining the rationality underpinning the test for the justified governmental infringement of aboriginal and treaty rights.

Chapter IV, examines the relationship between the regulatory power of ‘government’ and the legal discourse around current treaty negotiations. Specifically, it explores the inter-dependency between rationalities of self-government and the governmental technologies associated with ‘advanced’ liberalism. In doing so, it focuses on an emerging treaty from British Columbia to assess the extent to which law is being used as ‘a tactic of government’.

Chapter V, examines the relationship between the deductive power of ‘sovereignty’ and the legal discourse constituting the content of Aboriginal title. It argues that recent developments require the Court to deal with the issue of legal pluralism. And to do so, in a way that lays a more successful foundation in law for the legitimate reconciling of the pre-existence of First Nations societies and the sovereignty of the Crown.

Chapter VI provides some concluding comments about the insights gained from the proceeding analysis. In doing so, it offers a brief discussion of how the proceeding specific analysis may relate to some recent work in post-colonial studies.

Archive Theses and dissertations

Archive: “To read, write, and cast accounts”: Foucault, Governmentality and Education in Upper Canada/Canada West (2013)

McGarry, Michael (2013) “To read, write, and cast accounts”: Foucault, Governmentality and Education in Upper Canada/Canada West, Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto

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Contributing to the work of philosophers of education who have been examining issues of economy and emancipation, this dissertation employs a set of critical lenses drawn from Foucault’s investigation of governmentality to trace correspondences between economic liberalism and public schooling in Upper Canada/Canada West, the historical antecedent of present day Ontario. The analysis adheres to Foucault’s advice that philosophical critique involves a question asked of the present but answered in history. Thus through a Foucauldian genealogy it is argued that a series of transformations in the deployment of governmental power occurred in Upper Canada/Canada West that entailed the entry of an economic rationality into deliberations over the creation of a school system.

To support this argument evidence is presented that demonstrates how race, biopolitics, and the burgeoning science of political economy combined in the first half of the nineteenth century to form the conditions of possibility for governmental control of schooling. In particular, it is illustrated how these conditions favoured a pedagogy based in Locke’s epistemology, and were legitimized by the providential status accorded political economy. This pedagogy, which was promoted as mild and so conducive to student engagement, and the authority of political economy are revealed as integral to the methods of instruction and curriculum of the province’s common schools, and indicative of the legacy of economic liberalism that persists, albeit transformed, in Ontario education to this day.

The result of this critical analysis is a redescription or, in Foucault’s terminology, a “countermemory” of Ontario educational history that challenges the presumed naturalism of the ideals characteristic of economic liberalism, such as autonomy, accountability, entrepreneurialism, and consumer choice. The dissertation contends that these ideals are active in local educational regimes long legitimized by economy, and dangerously aimed at fostering political consent by manipulating subjects into locations of restricted agency.

Providing insight into the historical role played by liberal governmentality and economy in the local context contributes to the study of Foucault and the philosophy of education, and also suggests a change in approach to questions regarding the corporatization or marketization of education. Instead of viewing economy as either a necessary component of schooling or a contemporary affront to educational ideals, it is proposed that it be re-evaluated according to its persistent, but contingent, historical correspondence with liberal government and its institutions.

Archive Education Theses and dissertations

Governing civil society: How literacy, education and security were brought together (2015)

Stephen John Kelly, Governing civil society: How literacy, education and security were brought together, PhD Thesis, Queensland University of Technology, 2015

This study investigates the representation and deployment of the categories literacy, education and security in government policy. Each of these categories is the foci of significant inquiry and occupies distinct spaces in academic literature. Taken independently, questions about education, literacy and security generate academic, political, public and private debate over concerns about the material effects of government policy and intervention. The question of how human subjects and civil society are discursively and non – discursively produced, are shared by investigations in education, literacy and security. The study questions how the categories of security, education and literacy, can be thought about together as related elements of a whole – of – government strategy in the production of civil society.

The key focus of this study was to examine the deployment of literacy and education by the Australian Government when expressing concerns about the security of the nation and its geopolitical interests. A Foucauldian conceptualisation of discourse and governmentality was used to form the theoretical basis for the analysis of political texts, while Foucault’s conceptions of genealogy and archaeology informed the epistemology and research design. The primary analytical focus was on texts selected from 1995 – 2007, although texts from the beginning of the Enlightenment, starting with Hobbes’ Leviathan in 1651 to the emergence of human security in 1994 were used to establish a network of relations and continuities in political discourse. Three key discursive fields are identified in the analysis: human capital, national identity and the government of human security. These fields are examined for the way dispersed government practices can be connected by a whole – of – government strategy. In addition key political statements were examined at length for whether they drew together realms of government activity into an intelligible statement about the role of government. In staging an analysis of diverse practices and key texts , the study was concerned to identify an emergent relationship between education, literacy and the government of security. The analysis questioned how representations of “problems” in political discourse produced consequences for human subjects and the nature of civil society. The examination of texts was concerned about the government of human life through the formation of cultural and geographical spaces; containment of uncertainty and complexity; the management of population through distribution of risk across social fields and the discursive and non – discursive responses to situations of perceived crisis. Assumptions about the nature of rule, liberalism, national identity and the effects of globalisation are examined for their use in government strategies that deploy constructs of literacy, education and security.

The study argues that the categories of education and literacy have been used in diverse ways in the production of national, social, economic and geopolitical security interests. As dialogue about security has intensified, rationalizations about the national interest have engaged notions of security leading to the legitimation, proliferation, re – contextualisation and implementation of a diverse set of policy instruments, incorporating literacy as a cultural and political tool engaging notions of capability, economic productivity, and cultural capital. The analysis suggests that government apparatuses have been strategically used in order to contain the rise of complex social forces and protect a set of homogenous cultural values. The purposes of education and uses of literacy are seen as instruments for the inscription of a coded set of values understood to be synonymous with neoliberal civil society. The incorporation of education and literacy into a whole – of – government security strategy can be seen as a feature of biopolitical government interested in governing the conduct of diverse and unpredictable populations.

Education Theses and dissertations

An Ethics of Self-creation Beyond Foucault: A Theory of Justice for a Multicultural, Liberal and Democratic Society (2013)

Självskapelseetik bortom Foucault: En rättviseteori för ett mångkulturellt, liberalt och demokratiskt samhälle

The English title:

An Ethics of Self-creation Beyond Foucault: A Theory of Justice for a Multicultural, Liberal and Democratic Society.

This recently submitted thesis is written in Swedish but includes an extensive English summary at the end and can be downloaded from this University of Gothenburg link

This thesis develops a normative theory of justice centered on the concept of subjectivation. The concept originates from (late) Foucault and is connected to his writing on ethics. Foucault did not himself elaborate on the subject in any great detail. This thesis, however, does, creating a theory of justice for a multicultural, liberal, democratic, society on the basis of subjectivation.

The basic principle of the theory is that a just society is one in which everyone has equal opportunity to engage in active subjectivation. This is related, but not synonymous, to Foucault’s ethics, which is sometimes summarized in a clichéd manner by referring to his statement that we should turn our life into “a piece of art”. I argue that the opportunity to engage in active subjectivation is what ought to be equally distributed in society. Active subjectivation is best understood in relation to its opposite, passive subjectivation. The latter refers to an identity that is molded, subjugated and constituted by power relations external to the subject; the former to an identity-formation attained by the subject’s conscious and active work on itself.

The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the foucaultian ethic and how it is related to its archaic predecessors. This part also develops a critique of Foucault’s version of the ethic of self-creation. In the second part I surpass the foucaultian ethics, creating my own version of the ethic of self-creation. The third and last part is devoted to the questions of group-based rights and organization of education, and tries to explicate how these issues could be handled by a state that affirms the ethic of self-creation.

Theses and dissertations