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Governmentality and Control

Susanne Krasmann

Subject Law
Sociology » Government, Politics, and Law

Key-Topics power

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


In his lectures at the Collège de France at the end of the 1970s, the French philosopher Michel Foucault developed a new analytics of power, making the concept of governmentality the focus of his interest. This concept first of all refers to the historical emergence of an “art of government”: governing becomes an object of problematizing the best possible mode of exercising power. “Art,” therefore, alludes to an artificiality of government, something fabricated by humans and implying certain techniques and forms of knowledge, and to a capacity of producing effectiveness. The rationality of government, then, does not consist in a substantial reason, as what seems to be rational results from a relation between the object operated on, the objective pursued, the application of suitable means, techniques, and so forth. In short, rationality is itself a reflection of the conditions of government. It is by no means timelessly valid; rather, the historical context and the perspectives of a society or a local culture give the structure that facilitates its emergence, and here especially the knowledge itself that comes into use. Governmentality studies examines rationalities of government that form the techniques, procedures and ways of action, and the economy of power that these technologies create. In this sense, the concept also refers to a type of power that, according to Foucault, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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