Foucault News

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

Samta P Pandya, Governmentality and guru-led movements in India, Some arguments from the field, European Journal of Social Theory February 2016 vol. 19 no. 1, 74-93

doi: 10.1177/1368431015602355


The concept of governmentality has a textual and philosophical basis as well as being concerned with what might be called the practices of government. This article discusses and develops the governmentality argument with respect to the guru-led movements. It outlines the basics of Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality, its analytical frame, the fact that governmentality moves beyond only the practices of the state and its nuances in a neoliberal frame of reference, drawing on Zygmunt Bauman and others. It then discusses the governmentality of guru-led movements through: (1) the political acts and powers of the gurus; (2) the supplementary and complementary efforts to aid the state by the guru-led movements; (3) instances of resistance and taking on the state, and (4) the flipside of governmentality, which manifests as hegemony, Hindutva politics and Hindu nationalism. Through the governmentality argument, aspects of the surveillance, discipline, control, interactivity and competition of the guru-led movements emerge. What is discussed is a post-disciplinary model of governance which devolves power downwards from crumbling state institutions to new agencies of control, in this case, the gurus and their institutions. This devolution, however, is not without its tensions and the article also argues that guru governmentality betrays traces of hybridity and non-linearity.

field arguments governmentality guru-led movements India

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