Foucault News

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

Fraser, G. Foucault, governmentality theory and ‘Neoliberal Community Development’ (2020) Community Development Journal, 55 (3), pp. 437-451.

DOI: 10.1093/cdj/bsy049

It is widely accepted that Michel Foucault’s ‘governmentality lectures’ constituted a seminal moment in the history of neoliberal studies. In an analysis which was original and prescient, Foucault framed neoliberalism, not only in terms of a set of economic policies based on monetarism, de-regulation and privatisation, but also as a productive power, which arguably, marked the beginnings of a new paradigm in the governance of human beings. Drawing upon my own empirical research, which was based on a case study of community development in the context of local government in the UK, I apply ideas associated with Foucault and governmentality theory to the field of contemporary practice. I argue that community development has been fundamentally transformed by practices associated with neoliberalism and new managerialism, and that a model of practice which can broadly be characterised as ‘neoliberal community development’ has emerged along with a changing sense of professional identity. In an analysis indebted to governmentality theory, community development emerges not so much as a social profession rooted in the needs and aspirations of communities as a technology of government which is deployed by local states to facilitate neoliberalisation, austerity and the marketisation of public services.

Index Keywords
governance approach, local government, management practice, marketing, neoliberalism, public service, social theory, theoretical study; United Kingdom

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