Foucault News

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

Sverre Raffnsøe, Marius Gudmand-Høyer, Morten S. Thaning, What is a dispositive? Foucault’s historical mappings of the networks of social reality. On

The present working paper represents an earlier version of our article “Foucault’s dispositive: The perspicacity of dispositive analytics in organizational research”, reviewed and published by Organization (Sept. 17, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/1350508414549885). We have chosen to distribute it since this paper, compared to the later, thoroughly revised article, presents more details pertaining to Foucault’s use of the dispositive as an analytical concept, as well as a number of the more general implications of this type of historico-philosophical social analytics.

This article advances the ‘dispositive’ (le dispositif) as a key conception in Foucault’s work. As developed in his annual lectures in 1978 and 1979, the dispositive represents a crucial constituent of societal analysis on par with the familiar analytics of power/knowledge and the governmentality perspective – indeed it forms a lesser known intermediary between these. Foucault’s dispositional analysis articulates a history of connected social technologies that we have constructed to relate to each other. Expounding these points, the article distinguishes various dispositional prototypes and develops key ‘socio-ontological’ implications of the analysis. Reinstating the proper analytical status of the dispositive contributes to the reception of the important notion; the interpretation of Foucault’s entire oeuvre; and a resourceful approach to the study of contemporary societal problems.

Michel Foucault, dispositive (dispositif), historico-philosophical social analytics, law, discipline, security, history of governmentality

One thought on “What is a dispositive? Foucault’s historical mappings of the networks of social reality (2014)

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