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Governing economic life

Governing economic life This paper proposes some new ways of analysing the exercise of political power in advanced liberal democratic societies. These are developed from Michel Foucault's conception of ‘governmentality’ and addresses political power in terms of ‘political rationalities’ and ‘technologies of government’. It draws attention to the diversity of regulatory mechanisms which seek to give effect to government, and to the particular importance of indirect mechanisms that link the conduct of individuals and organizations to political objectives through ‘action at a distance’. The paper argues for the importance of an analysis of language in understanding the constitution of the objects of politics, not simply in terms of meaning or rhetoric, but as ‘intellectual technologies’ that render aspects of existence amenable to inscription and calculation. It suggests that governmentality has a characteristically ‘programmatic’ form, and that it is inextricably bound to the invention and evaluation of technologies that seek to give it effect. It draws attention to the complex processes of negotiation and persuasion involved in the assemblage of loose and mobile networks that can bring persons, organizations and objectives into alignment. The argument is exemplified through considering various aspects of the regulation of economic life: attempts at national economic planning in post-war France and England; the role ascribed to changing accounting practices in the UK in the 1960s; techniques of managing the internal world of the workplace that have come to lay special emphasis upon the psychological features of the producing subjects. The paper contends that ‘governmentality’ has come to depend in crucial respects upon the intellectual technologies, practical activities and social authority associated with expertise. It argues that the self-regulating capacities of subjects, shaped and normalized through expertise, are key resources for governing in a liberal-democratic way. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Economy and Society Taylor & Francis

Governing economic life

Economy and Society , Volume 19 (1): 31 – Feb 1, 1990

Governing economic life

Economy and Society , Volume 19 (1): 31 – Feb 1, 1990

Abstract

This paper proposes some new ways of analysing the exercise of political power in advanced liberal democratic societies. These are developed from Michel Foucault's conception of ‘governmentality’ and addresses political power in terms of ‘political rationalities’ and ‘technologies of government’. It draws attention to the diversity of regulatory mechanisms which seek to give effect to government, and to the particular importance of indirect mechanisms that link the conduct of individuals and organizations to political objectives through ‘action at a distance’. The paper argues for the importance of an analysis of language in understanding the constitution of the objects of politics, not simply in terms of meaning or rhetoric, but as ‘intellectual technologies’ that render aspects of existence amenable to inscription and calculation. It suggests that governmentality has a characteristically ‘programmatic’ form, and that it is inextricably bound to the invention and evaluation of technologies that seek to give it effect. It draws attention to the complex processes of negotiation and persuasion involved in the assemblage of loose and mobile networks that can bring persons, organizations and objectives into alignment. The argument is exemplified through considering various aspects of the regulation of economic life: attempts at national economic planning in post-war France and England; the role ascribed to changing accounting practices in the UK in the 1960s; techniques of managing the internal world of the workplace that have come to lay special emphasis upon the psychological features of the producing subjects. The paper contends that ‘governmentality’ has come to depend in crucial respects upon the intellectual technologies, practical activities and social authority associated with expertise. It argues that the self-regulating capacities of subjects, shaped and normalized through expertise, are key resources for governing in a liberal-democratic way.

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References (47)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1469-5766
eISSN
0308-5147
DOI
10.1080/03085149000000001
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper proposes some new ways of analysing the exercise of political power in advanced liberal democratic societies. These are developed from Michel Foucault's conception of ‘governmentality’ and addresses political power in terms of ‘political rationalities’ and ‘technologies of government’. It draws attention to the diversity of regulatory mechanisms which seek to give effect to government, and to the particular importance of indirect mechanisms that link the conduct of individuals and organizations to political objectives through ‘action at a distance’. The paper argues for the importance of an analysis of language in understanding the constitution of the objects of politics, not simply in terms of meaning or rhetoric, but as ‘intellectual technologies’ that render aspects of existence amenable to inscription and calculation. It suggests that governmentality has a characteristically ‘programmatic’ form, and that it is inextricably bound to the invention and evaluation of technologies that seek to give it effect. It draws attention to the complex processes of negotiation and persuasion involved in the assemblage of loose and mobile networks that can bring persons, organizations and objectives into alignment. The argument is exemplified through considering various aspects of the regulation of economic life: attempts at national economic planning in post-war France and England; the role ascribed to changing accounting practices in the UK in the 1960s; techniques of managing the internal world of the workplace that have come to lay special emphasis upon the psychological features of the producing subjects. The paper contends that ‘governmentality’ has come to depend in crucial respects upon the intellectual technologies, practical activities and social authority associated with expertise. It argues that the self-regulating capacities of subjects, shaped and normalized through expertise, are key resources for governing in a liberal-democratic way.

Journal

Economy and SocietyTaylor & Francis

Published: Feb 1, 1990

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