Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Re-Making Normal: Governing the Social in Neoliberal Times

Call for Contributions

Deborah Brock, editor


Re-Making Normal: Governing the Social in Neoliberal Times is a ‘sequel’ to my sole edited (Nelson 2003) publication, Making Normal: Social Regulation in Canada.  However, it differs from the 2003 edition in a number of respects, most notably, it will be published by a scholarly press rather than a commercial press, it can serve as a reader for upper year undergraduate courses and some graduate courses (although it is not intended to be a textbook), and it will be comprised entirely of chapters on contemporary concerns, forgoing the historical content of the earlier book.

Re-Making Normal explores how we are constituted as neoliberal subjects; for example, as sexually, fiscally and organizationally responsible subjects, and as biopolitical subjects of citizenship, militarism, development aid, etc.  In keeping with a governmentality approach, how focused investigations will be foregrounded.  In this text, neoliberalism is understood as more than an ideological perspective favoring the notion of the minimal state, competitive individualism, and ‘free’ trade and markets.  Neoliberalism has fundamentally reshaped how the self can be known and what interests the self holds through a reconfiguration of subjectification.

Re-Making Normal will potentially include a range of topics from self-fashioning (such as how we come to know and represent ourselves as sexual subjects, as psy subjects constituted through therapeutic authority, as having a particular kind of character, and of what ‘truths’ we speak) to broader biopolitical processes (such as schooling, surveillance, the organization of public and domestic spaces, the “management of the mind”[1], consumption, and how we labour).  All relevant topics will be considered.

All contributions must engage directly with activities of neoliberal governance as materially grounded and empirically verifiable sets of practices.  As such, Michel Foucault’s work provides a foundation for the book, and all contributions must engage directly with his governmentality approach.  I welcome contributions that use, challenge, and extend governmentality studies.  In this text, the governmentality approach is broadly conceived and open to a range of potentialities, in keeping with the fact that governmentality is not a specific theory and not a school of thought.  However contributions should, where possible, directly address the following:

-Take an approach to power that is much more nuanced than a social control model, and considers the ways in which contemporary western societies are characterized by conditions of ‘regulated freedom’.[2]

-Engage with the ‘programmes, strategies and techniques’[3] of government.

-De-centre the state and instead demonstrate how the state is produced as an affect of multiple force relations.

-Connect everyday life to the big issues of our day, centering the political character of personal, social, cultural and economic activity.

-Capture tensions between normalization and individualization, and homogenization and diversification, noting how they are integral to contemporary forms of governance.

-Demonstrate the dynamic and mutually constitutive relation between power and knowledge.

-Take up a critique of concepts such as ‘choice’, ‘freedom’, ‘empowerment’, ‘human rights’, etc.

-Pose the possibilities of resistance, beginning with an interrogation of truth, power and subjectivity.[4]

All contributions will pose critical analytic questions, directions for further research, and suggestions for resistance tactics and strategies.

Chapters may contain an historical component, but not be primarily historical.  While the text will be primarily Canadian in focus, international foci are most welcome (my preference is for non- US focused contributions), particularly where they contribute to a ‘global governmentality’.[5]

Chapter length:  In order to accommodate as broad a range of issues as possible, this book will feature relatively short chapters.  Chapters can range from a minimum of 3,780 words including references (approximately 9 published pages) to 7,560 words including references (approximately 18 published pages).

Without compromising scholarly rigor, I invite contributors to write in the first person (the ‘I’ form), to use plentiful examples, accessible language, and to be personable and somewhat colloquial in style.

Chapters will be selected based on their ability to meet the objectives of the collection, their coherence with other chapters in the collection, and overall quality.  All contributions must be new original articles for this edition.

 Format:  Chicago Manual of Style


31 March 2014            Last day for receipt of indication of interest in participation

30 April                       Last day for receipt of detailed proposals

29 August                    Chapters (Draft 1) due

8 Sept – 31 Oct           Editor Tasks (editing and suggestions for revision)

19 December              Chapters (Draft 2) due

29 Dec– 27 Feb 2015  Editor Tasks (preparation of complete manuscript)

2 March                       Submit manuscript to publisher for consideration/review

1 June                          Receipt of reviewer responses and decision of publisher

2 June – 31 July          Further revisions

4 August                      Production begins for spring 2016 publication

Please contact Deborah Brock

Deborah Brock is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada.  Her research and teaching address social, moral, and sexual regulation.  Her publications include Criminalization, Representation, Regulation (co-edited with Amanda Glasbeek and Carmela Murdocca) University of Toronto Press, forthcoming 2014; Power and Everyday Practices (co-edited with Rebecca Raby and Mark Thomas) Nelson, 2011; Making Work, Making Trouble:  The Social Regulation of Sexual Labour University of Toronto Press, 2009, 1998; and Making Normal: Social Regulation in Canada Nelson, 2003.

[1] Nikolas Rose Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2013).

[2] Nikolas Rose and Peter Miller “Introduction: Governing Economic and Social Life” in Governing the Present: Administering Economic, Social and Personal Life (Cambridge: Polity, 2008).

[3] Rose and Miller, 2008.

[4] Johanna Oksala “Neoliberalism and Biopolitical Governmentality” in Jakob Nilsson and Sven-Olov Wallenstein, eds Foucault, Biopolitics and Governmentality (Södertörn Philisophical Studies, 2013); Rose and Miller, 2008.

[5] Thomas Lemke “Foucault, Politics and Failure” in Jakob Nilsson and Sven-Olov Wallenstein, eds. Foucault, Biopolitics and Governmentality (Södertörn Philisophical Studies, 2013) See also Wendy Larner and William Walters Global Governmentality: Governing International Spaces London: Routledge, 2004.

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