In the last two decades there has been an explosion of research inspired by Michel Foucault’s suggestion of a new concept, ‘governmentality’. The distinctive feature of modern governmentality is that across all sorts of fields, rule is predicated upon the active subject as the vehicle through which—and by which—power is exercised. The appeal of governmentality is that, whether we are considering the workplace, the school or welfare regimes, it opens up new ways of looking at familiar institutions.
Foucault and Managerial Governmentality is about Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality. The novelty of this concept is that looks at the ways that populations and organisations are imagined in ways that premise collective gains through expanding individual freedoms. Specifically, how are technologies of freedom devised that improve the overall performance—health, productivity, or parental responsibility—of a given population?
Understanding the operation of technologies of control is a simple enough task, argues Foucault, but also one that blinds us to the increasing prevalence of technologies of freedom. Foucault and Managerial Governmentality aims not just to locate this concept in Foucault’s wider research project but to apply it to all sorts of management techniques. By applying governmentality to questions of management and organization we will also develop Foucault’s original, somewhat sketchy concept.
This book has three innovative narratives: an awareness of the historicity of the concept; the application of governmentality to specific forms of management means that we escape the temptation to read any and all forms of technology and organization as an expression of neoliberalism; and, finally, the interviews with Peter Miller and Nikolas Rose provide unique intellectual and personal insights into the development of the governmentalist project over the last thirty years.