Reading the COVID-19 emergency with and beyond Foucault: The liberal subject and everyday practices of mobility
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, most analyses have used a Foucauldian perspective to investigate the disciplinary and surveillance mechanisms that (il/liberal) states introduced to contain the spread of the virus. Focussing on the Italian context, I suggest that, despite the mobility restrictions, the government retained overall its liberal rationality. Italian institutions did not aim to create a state of police nor to transform subjects into docile bodies. By reading the COVID-19 emergency with Foucault, I suggest approaching COVID-19 restrictions through the concept of governmentality, and propose that Italian institutions, at different levels, structured people’s fields of action by persuading, encouraging, and incentivising certain behaviours during the pandemic. However, I also suggest reading the COVID-19 emergency beyond Foucault by engaging with the work of Michel de Certeau and investigating the many ‘antidisciplinary practices’ through which people ‘metaphorized’ dominant (disciplinary) norms. © The Author(s) 2022.
de Certeau; governmentality; immobility; Italy; lockdown; quotidian practices