Re: bourdieu, foucault, and althusser

Dear Hiro,

The best essay I've read on the relationship between the works of Althusser
and Foucault is the following:

W. Montag, '"The Soul is the Prison of the Body": Althusser and Foucault,
1970-1975', in J. Lezra, Depositions: Althusser, Balibar, Macherey, and the
Labor of Reading, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1995, pp. 53-77 (also
published as Yale French Studies, No. 88).

This issue was given both ISBN and ISSN numbers and was able to be purchased
as a book, but is now out of print. Libraries might have it under Yale
French Studies. Montag's recent book _Louis Althusser_ (Palgrave, 2002) and
his book _Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and his Contemporaries_ are two of
the best treatments of Althusser's theory of the materiality of ideology. A
free sample chapter from the Althusser book is available for download at

See also the essays of Althusser's students Pierre Macherey and Etienne
Balibar, including the following on Foucault:

E. Balibar, 'Foucault and Marx: The question of nominalism', trans. T.J.
Armstrong, in F. Ewald (ed.), Michel Foucault: Philosopher, Harvester
Wheatsheaf, Hamel Hampstead, 1992, pp. 38-57.

P. Macherey, 'Towards a Natural History of Norms', trans. T.J. Armstrong, in
F. Ewald (ed.), Michel Foucault: Philosopher, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hamel
Hampstead, 1992, pp. 176-191.

P. Macherey, In a Materialist Way: Selected Essays, trans. T. Stolze, ed. W.
Montag, Verso, London, 1999.

Nicos Poulantzas was a contemporary, but never a "student" of Althusser, and
his work differs in very significant ways. In many ways Poulantzas is a
Weberian Marxist, which cannot be said of Althusser. Macherey, Balibar,
Pecheux, Lecourt were all students of Althusser's whose work continued in
his vein. Ranciere and Miller were students of Althusser's who broke with
his views. Barry Hindess was a prominent anglophone follower and developer
of Althusser's work and now is a governmentality theorist and foucaultian.

You should check out the following recent essay on governmentality and

Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg, 'Marxism and Governmentality Studies:
Toward a Critical Encounter', Rethinking Marxism, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.

Hope these resources help.

David McInerney

Dr. David McInerney
review editor
Borderlands e-journal

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hiro Saito" <hirosophy@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <bourdieu@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>;
Sent: Sunday, June 01, 2003 3:30 AM
Subject: bourdieu, foucault, and althusser

> Ahh, a joy of studying for a prelim....
> I'm wondering whether it's reasonable to conceptualize Foucault's
> "governmentality" in terms of Bourdieu's "habitus" (and vice versa).
> According to Foucault, "government is the right disposition of things...
> [that is] with government it is a question not of imposing law on men, but
> of disposing things" (1991:93;95). In other words, governmentality entails
> inculcation of certain, govern-mental, durable dispositions--habitus--into
> actors, which can render them docile. Put in Althusser's words, actors
> become willing to submit to their own subjugation "all by themselves" due
> a set of practices conducive to the emergence of such a "govern-mental"
> self, which is embedded in state apparatuses (1971).
> In this respect, I'm also wondering about the difference/relationship
> between Foucault and Althusser. Their arguments about the production of a
> certain form of self sound similar. But, at the same time, I tend to think
> that Althusser's argument assumes the systematicity and coherence of
> practices and institutions within which a certain subjectivity emerges, as
> his student Poulantzas emphasizes a "specific internal unity" of state
> apparatuses 1969:301), contrary to Foucault who argues that those
> and institutions can be incoherent and sometimes contradictory.
> What do you think?
> Hiro Saito
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