Foucault News

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


In these days of quarantine against COVID-19, I frequently see essays on social media aimed against normal mandates of worker productivity. These reports are aimed at the privileged, that is, those who still have jobs and are working from home. As such, these anxious stabs against the perceived persistent expectation of professional productivity–resistance expressed in light of the anxiety of the world and about the virus itself–succinctly caption the neoliberal subject as self-entrepreneur. We neoliberal professionals are so deeply formed by the need to prove ourselves productive–increasingly productive and productive in increasingly new ways–that when psycho-social conditions render this mandate impossible, we turn our productivity to producing accounts of why we can’t be productive.

  Productivity and unproductivity appear in our news feeds about the virus in another, quite different way: the cough symptomatic of COVID-19 is what they call “unproductive.” If you have a productive cough, you probably…

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