Foucault News

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

Governmentality, Neoliberalism, Economy: strategies for critiques of power
(7 – 9 December 2015)
CBS – Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

PhD School
Doctoral School of Organisation and Management Studies
Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy


Mitchell Dean, Professor of Public Governance, CBS
Stuart Elden, Professor, Monash University
Ute Tellmann, Fakultät Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Universität Hamburg
Kaspar Villadsen, Professor (mso), Department of Management, Politics & Philosophy, CBS, Denmark
Marius Gudmand-Høyer, Post.Doc. Scholar, Department of Management, Politics & Philosophy, CBS, Denmark

Course coordinator
Kaspar Villadsen and Mitchell Dean


Only PhD students can participate in the course.

The course requires the submission of a short paper that deals with conceptual problems or analytical designs in relation to Foucauldian inspired/governmentality studies. Furthermore, papers that apply Foucauldian concepts to empirical problems in a variety of domains are welcomed. The paper should state the theme and the analytical strategy of the PhD project and it should be approx. 5 pages. In the paper, the PhD student should state his/her main analytical challenge/concern at his/her current stage in the project.

Papers must be in English. DEADLINE is 2 December 2015.

It is a precondition for receiving the course diploma that the student attends the whole course.


The course will provide the participants with:

a) An updated introduction to key analytical concepts in the governmentality literature, and the potentials and limits of these concepts will be discussed

b) Possibilities for supplementing the governmentality approach with other analytical resources will be discussed. and

c) a discussion of Foucault’s relationship to neoliberalism and his understanding of the economy

In brief, the course aims to provide participants with a thorough understanding of the governmentality framework, that is, its analytical possibilities, its current status, and its possible directions of development with a particular emphasis on contemporary debates on neoliberalism and the economy.


Over the last 20 years, post-Foucauldian “governmentality studies” have come to growing prominence. These studies have been effective in critically analysing new types of liberal government, in particular by demonstrating ‘the active side of laissez faire’. They describe how the motto of ‘pulling back the state’ has been accompanied by a series of governmental strategies and technologies aimed at shaping institutions and subjects in particular ways. Perhaps most noticeably, they have presented a diagnosis of a proliferation of regimes of enterprise and accounting in new and surprising places. But a wide range of other domains have been subjected to governmentality analysis spanning from genetic screening and risk calculation, new crime prevention strategies, to health promotion by self-responsibilisation. In this respect the concepts in governmentality studies continue to constitute effective tools for critical social analysis.

Nevertheless, in recent years critical objections have been raised against the governmentality approach. It has been noted by some observers that the Foucauldian and post-structuralist language, originally used for critical academic purposes, seems to be increasingly appropriated by ‘the powers’ that were the object of such critique. Most notably, this point has been voiced (although in different versions) by Zizek, Boltanski, and Hardt & Negri. These thinkers suggest that a post-structural ’politics of difference’ increasingly seems to be an integral part of the ways, in which institutions and companies organise themselves. Contemporary liberal ways of governing have begun to speak for the dissolution of binary essentials, the destabilisation of rigid power structures, the creation of space for the subject’s self-transforming work upon itself, and so on. In light of this development, we need to think of how to revitalise the Foucauldian concepts of critique/criticism or whether we must push a critical perspective beyond Foucault. A central theme of the PhD course is the search for effective analytical strategies for critique of power (some perhaps less noticed) in the works of Foucault and other writers within and outside the governmentality tradition.

The course gives importance to the need for contextualizing both the concepts that we use for making analysis, both in terms of being aware of how concepts emerge in a particular historical-political context that shape them. We shall hence discuss how to do intellectual history on recent thinkers, including Foucault himself. Foucault’s most intensive reflection on political questions was in the 1970s. Given that the key source of his reflections here are lectures and interviews, we should attend to this reflection less as elaborated theory and more as a kind of performance in a definite context with specific interlocutors. A Foucault very different from his Anglo-American decontextualized reception as a theorist of omnipresent micro-powers emerges if we do so. There are of contemporary events and political currents: European terrorism, state socialism, French Maoism, the Iranian Revolution, the prospects of a Socialist government in France, etc. But there are specific interlocutors including his assistants (Kriegel, Ewald), seminar participants (Pasquino, Procacci, Rosanvallon), colleagues (Donzelot, Castel, Deleuze), auditors, political fractions such as the Second Left and Italian autonomist Marxists. If statements should be read in terms of what they do as much as what they mean, then the diverse trajectories of these thinkers are also relevant to reading Foucault’s political thought.

Teaching style

The course will use lectures given by specialists in the field, round table discussions, and presentation of papers from PhD students. Participation in the course requires a paper with an outline of PhD project or parts of the project. See more details above.

Enroll no later than
Wednesday, 28 October, 2015

One thought on “Governmentality, Neoliberalism, Economy: strategies for critiques of power (7 – 9 December 2015) | CBS – Copenhagen Business School

  1. stuartelden says:

    Reblogged this on Progressive Geographies and commented:
    News of an interesting PhD workshop to be held in Copenhagen in December. Unfortunately, due to a mix-up over dates, I will not be presenting at this event.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: