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The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979 (2004)

– tekijä: Michel Foucault

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
429145,535 (3.83)-
this liberal governmentality. This involves describing the political rationality within which the specific problems of life and population were posed: "Studying liberalism as the general framework of biopolitics." What are the specific features of the liberal art of government as they were outlined in the Eighteenth century? What crisis of governmentality characterises the present world and what revisions of liberal government has it given rise to? This is the diagnostic task addressed by Foucault's study of the two major twentieth century schools of neo-liberalism: German ordo-liberalism and the neo-liberalism of the Chicago School. In the years he taught at the College de France, this was Michel Foucault's sole foray into the field of contemporary history. This course thus raises questions of political philosophy and social policy that are at the heart of current debates about the role and status of neo-liberalism in twentieth century politics. A remarkable feature of these lectures is their discussion of contemporary economic theory and practice, culminating in an analysis of the model of "homo oeconomicus." Foucault's analysis also highlights the paradoxical role played by "society" in relation to government. "Society" is both that in the name of which government strives to limit itself, but it is also the target for permanent governmental intervention to produce, multiply, and guarantee the freedoms required by economic liberalism. Far from being opposed to the State, civil society is thus shown to be the correlate of a liberal technology of government.… (lisätietoja)
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A decent if long-winded analysis of trends in liberal government since the Enlightenment. This was supposed to be an in-depth treatment of "biopolitics", or government intervention in the biological characteristics of the population (and this in turn an extension of Foucault's power-knowledge-self relationship).

However he never quite gets there as these lectures focus almost entirely on the twin movements of German ordoliberalism and American neo-liberalism (exemplified by the Chicago School of "anarcho" capitalists), which were intended as a lead-in to the "real" topic.

That aside, this is an interesting book and quite readable as these things go. Foucault is not light reading at the best of times, but as these are largely transcripts from a lecture series, they aren't too challenging (though some familiarity with both political terminology and 20th century history would be useful). I was particularly drawn to his analysis of homo economicus and the American impulse to apply the rationality of markets to non-economic processes -- that has been a key site in my own thinking in recent years, and it's a particularly troubling trend in my thinking.

I admit I skimmed a lot of the lectures. Much of the book simply wasn't of immediate or direct interest, although as an account of recent European and American political history -- from Foucault's notoriously scrupulous eye no less -- it was remarkably thorough. ( )
  chaosmogony | Apr 27, 2013 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (2)

this liberal governmentality. This involves describing the political rationality within which the specific problems of life and population were posed: "Studying liberalism as the general framework of biopolitics." What are the specific features of the liberal art of government as they were outlined in the Eighteenth century? What crisis of governmentality characterises the present world and what revisions of liberal government has it given rise to? This is the diagnostic task addressed by Foucault's study of the two major twentieth century schools of neo-liberalism: German ordo-liberalism and the neo-liberalism of the Chicago School. In the years he taught at the College de France, this was Michel Foucault's sole foray into the field of contemporary history. This course thus raises questions of political philosophy and social policy that are at the heart of current debates about the role and status of neo-liberalism in twentieth century politics. A remarkable feature of these lectures is their discussion of contemporary economic theory and practice, culminating in an analysis of the model of "homo oeconomicus." Foucault's analysis also highlights the paradoxical role played by "society" in relation to government. "Society" is both that in the name of which government strives to limit itself, but it is also the target for permanent governmental intervention to produce, multiply, and guarantee the freedoms required by economic liberalism. Far from being opposed to the State, civil society is thus shown to be the correlate of a liberal technology of government.

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