Re: [Foucault-L] Governmentality -Take 2 (ignore the previous e-mail)

Hi Scott,

as far as I can see, the term Governmentality carries a central ambiguity which is expressed also in your questions.
I would claim that Governmentality is used (1) as a term to describe a certain analytical perspective and (2) as a hint on the content of the contemporary rationality of governing.

So what you describe in your email is the analytical perspective the notion of governmentality is opening up. Concretely that is the question of 'How we are governed?' in a very broad sense at a certain time in a certain society. That is the first aspect the term governmentality is used for.

"The twin pillars of governmentality" as you call them belong to the second meaning that is if the analytical perspective of governmentality is applied to the contemporary societies. The "governmentality of our present" indeed consists of technologies of individual guidance as well as of technologies of population control.

So regarding your questions it is not only possible but quite promising to follow the research perspective the notion of governmenality opens up. This allows for example the drawing together of all the many different ways power is exercised in a certain society and it enables to see patterns and interactions between these technologies.
To cite Rose et al.:
"What remains salient and challenging about this approach is its insistence that to understand how we are governed in the present, individually and collectively, in our homes, workplaces, schools, and hospitals, in our towns, regions, and nations, and by our national and transnational governing bodies requires us to turn away from grand theory, the state, globalization, reflexive individualization, and the like. Instead, we need to investigate the role of the gray sciences, the minor professions, the accountants and insurers, the managers and psychologists, in the mundane business of governing everyday economic and social life, in the shaping of governable domains and governable persons, in the new forms of power, authority, and subjectivity being formed within these mundane practices. Every practice for the conduct of conduct involves authorities, aspirations, programmatic thinking, the invention or redeployment of techniques and technologies." (Rose, Nikolas, P. O’Malley . M. Valverde (2006). Governmentality. Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, 2:83–104, 101)

But it would be misleading to use the very special pattern of t the contemporary rationality of government (Biopower, Individualization and totalization) as a general scheme of governing.

To put it short: Governmentality as a research perspective could be applied in many different societies. The specific 'governmental' way of governing, seems historically bound to advanced liberal societies.

correct me if you disagree (would be helpful for my understanding)

best regards

Am 05.03.2008 um 12:46 schrieb Scott Nicholas:

Hi everyone,

just thought that I had better clarify a couple of things.

I am looking at Foucault's work on Governmentality this semester. My reading of his Governmentality lecture and other references within his 1978 lecture series "Security, Territory & Population" is that this analytic can be applied even when the prevailing political rationality changes, or the state as a technology of government and its constituent elements (e.g., organising mechanisms,mix of private & public) change, or indeed the technologies and practices of government change. In other words, my core argument is that the twin pillars of governmentality: guidance of individual conduct and population management for the purpose of achieving national outcomes (e.g., GDP growth); remain in place even when the rationality for and the means of achieving (e.g., governmental tactics, practices, methods, devices, mechanisms etc) the aforementioned outcomes change, shift or mutate. In this sense, governmentality can accomodate say the alleged change from Fordist discipline to Post-F!
ordist flexibilisation.

I am responding to a recent claim that Foucault was "the great theorist of Fordist Discipline"and is at risk of becoming depasse, by arguing among others things both that:(1) his Governmentality analytic can accomodate epochal shifts from Fordism to Post-Fordism provided that the focus of government remains both the governance of individual conduct and the management of populations life issues (biopolitical concerns if you will); and (2) the Disciplinary society still exists.

Given my construal, the question arises does say repression fall under the conceptual auspices of Governmentality? and under what conditions would governmentality not apply - slavery perhaps?

I am curious to know if anyone disagrees with this construal of what I think is the continued relevance of Governmentality?

Any and all responses are welcome

Scott Nicholas
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