Foucault News

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

Matko Krce-Ivančić (2018) Governing through anxiety, Journal for Cultural Research, 26 October

DOI: 10.1080/14797585.2018.1537587

This article examines anxiety, arguing that it is a systemic feature of neoliberalism which regenerates the economy and acts in a conservative manner, thereby effectively preventing social change. Anxiety is explored using psychoanalytic theory to extend Foucault’s conception of neoliberal governmentality as proposed in his lectures on neoliberalism at the Collège de France. Relying on Foucault’s notion of governmentality as an analytic perspective, this article does not present the economy or the state as the origin of power in neoliberalism. Rather, these are seen as mediums of power, whereas the anchorage point of power relations is understood to be a particular form of governmentality. In neoliberalism, this anchorage point of power is largely supported and strongly characterised by anxiety. While examining the psychic life of power in neoliberalism, I avoid positioning and thus analysing anxiety either on the individual or the macro level of society. Rather, showing that anxiety exposes the weakness of such clean divisions, it is argued that neoliberal subjects are nowadays governed through anxiety.

KEYWORDS: Anxiety, choice, Foucault, governmentality, neoliberalism, psychoanalysis

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