Foucault News

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

Nasir, M.A.
Weighing Words: On the Governmentality of Free Speech
(2016) Social and Legal Studies, 25 (1), pp. 69-92.

DOI: 10.1177/0964663915586472

Abstract
This article takes issue with those accounts of the right to freedom of expression that find a zero-sum game between power and freedom. It argues that by marking expression as a legal problematic, the right to freedom of expression regulates the force of an expression, and by doing so governs the (expressing qua juridical) subjects. When the question thus turns onto the subject, the subjects are required to be ‘free in specific ways’ in order to exercise their freedoms in an apt manner. In order to argue out these points, this article analyzes the case law of the right to freedom of expression from the theoretical lens of governmentality. The discussion begins by a reading of a set of cases brought before European Court of Human Rights: Sürek v. Turkey. Later, the dynamics of power and subjectivity are commented upon, by discussing the ways through which expressions merit a legally protected status. Finally, the article focuses on the complex interdependencies the right to freedom of expression form between an expressing subject and its juridical capacities on one hand, and between expressivity and the guarantor of this right on the other. © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.

Author Keywords
European human rights law; Foucault; governmentality; subjectivity; the right to freedom of expression

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