Foucault News

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

PhD Course: Foucault: Organization, technology, and subject-formation
Copenhagen 27/06/2022 – 30/06/2022

More information and registration: https://phdcourses.dk/Course/88149

Faculty
Marius Gudmand-Høyer, Associate Professor, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School.
Sverre Raffnsøe, Professor, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School.
Ute Tellman, Professor, Department of Sociology, Darmstadt University.
Kaspar Villadsen, Professor (mso), Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School.

Prerequisites

Only PhD students can participate in the course.

Participation requires submission of a short paper (see more below). Papers must be in English. Deadline is 13 June 2022. We welcome PhD students who work with Foucault as well as PhD students who would like to integrate Foucauldian ideas.

It is a precondition for receiving the course diploma that the PhD student attends the whole course.

Aim

The course will provide the participants with:

a) An introduction to key analytical potentials reconstructed from Foucault’s authorship as well as the lecturers’ own research projects.
b) We will discuss different approaches to themes of organization, technology, and subject-formation, as they are deployed in state-of-the-art Foucault-inspired scholarship.

c) The particular way Foucauldian analytics can be applied in the participant’s research will be explored. Hence, both potentials and limitations will be discussed in relation to the participants’ current research.

Course content

Michel Foucault’s work continues to offer a major source of inspiration for PhD projects across a wide range of disciplinary domains. This PhD course explores how Foucault’s work speaks to three broad themes in contemporary business school research and beyond: Organization, technology, and subject-formation. A key aim of the course is to provide an overview of analytical possibilities in Foucault’s work, effective for deploying such analytics in their own research.

Overall, Foucault’s thinking can help to inquire into the organizations, technologies and self-techniques that condition our contemporary experiences. First, Foucault’s genealogical approach (1977, 1984) works by tracing how contemporary forms of organization emerged from past struggles, political strategies, and accidental events. From this perspective, the prevailing modes of organizing can be better grasped by recovering their historical conditions of emergence. Struggles around definitions and uses of appropriate management, leadership, accountability, transparency or sustainability make up pertinent material for genealogical inquiry.

Foucault developed his own notion of technology during the 1970s, namely the concept of “the dispositive”. A dispositive is defined as a historical configuration, which connects discursive and non-discursive elements such as laws, practices, material artifacts, procedures, and techniques (Foucault, 1980). It designates a propensity in knowledge production and social practice as well as a “dispositionality” in how institutions emerge and transform. The concept has recently been introduced into Foucauldian scholarship, and it opens for analyzing how our practices – for example, risk assessments or anti-pandemic strategies – are conditioned by dispositives that have been formed in historical processes often spanning several centuries.

Finally, Foucault’s late authorship in the early 1980s, often termed his “ethical turn”, took him back to techniques of self-formation in Early Christianity and Greco-Roman antiquity. There, Foucault noticed a “technical” notion of ethics less defined by submission to universal moral codes and instead focused more on the self’s work upon the self. Perhaps, the urgent issues of our time call for developing another form of ethics rather than models rooted in legal frameworks and Christian morality. The recent emergence of responsible consumers, ‘life-long learners’, climate conscious youths, “freeganism”, and fluid gender identity could be analyzed with inspiration from Foucault’s work on ethics and self-formation.

The theme of this PhD course requires that the participants engage in some way with Foucault’s historical work, his analytical frameworks, or his approach to organization, technology, and subjectivity. Papers that are not exclusively Foucauldian but also derive from other thinkers and traditions are welcome too.

Teaching style

The goal is to sharpen the participants’ knowledge of Foucault’s analytical toolbox and how it can be applied in PhD projects. To that end we dedicate sufficient time to carefully examine and discuss the submitted papers. The aim of the lectures is, first, to clarify the ways in which Foucault worked with his analytics and, second, to demonstrate how to put the analytics to work in specific analysis. The aim of the workshops is to explore how Foucauldian analytics function in each participant’s paper – with the aim of strengthening, deepening and nuancing the participants’ research. In the workshops, participants are divided into smaller groups that will be supervised by one of lecturers.

All participants are required to submit a paper that deals with the key theme(s) of the PhD project in question (maximum 10 pages).

Papers (and 300 word abstracts) must be in English.

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