Governmentality, subjectivity, and the neoliberal form of life

Journal for Cultural Research 22 (2):154-166 (2018)
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In this paper, I argue that the appropriate answer to the question of the form contemporary neoliberalism gives our lives rests on Michel Foucault’s definition of neoliberalism as a particular art of governing human beings. I claim that Foucault’s definition consists in three components: neoliberalism as a set of technologies structuring the ‘milieu’ of individuals in order to obtain specific effects from their behavior; neoliberalism as a governmental rationality transforming individual freedom into the very instrument through which individuals are directed; and neoliberalism as a set of political strategies that constitute a specific, and eminently governable, form of subjectivity. I conclude by emphasising the importance that Foucault’s work on neoliberalism as well as the ancient ‘ethics of the care of the self’ still holds for us today.



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Daniele Lorenzini
University of Pennsylvania

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