Foucault News

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

Clifton, J., Jacobs, G., Valeiras-Jurado, J., Vandendaele, A.
Governmentality-in-action The pursuit of happiness and identity-work in graduate career coaching interaction
(2022) Language and Dialogue, 12 (3), pp. 335-359.

DOI: 10.1075/ld.00117.cli

Abstract
Foucault’s notion of governmentality has been the focus of much research. However, little work provides an account of how governmentality is enacted as social practice. Using transcripts of naturally-occurring talk taken from a face-to-face coaching session and text taken from a career consultant’s website as data, the purpose of this paper is to make visible, and thus analysable, the way in which governmentality and the regulation of identities are enacted. In order to do this, we use critical discursive psychology as a method. Findings indicate that the coach is talked into being as an expert who diagnoses a ‘problem’ concerning the coachee’s career path and provides advice on how to solve the ‘problem’. This advice, drawing on wider social Discourses of happiness at work, regulates the identity of the coachee by prescribing acceptable ways of thinking about, and acting on, the self and so enacts governmentality.

Author Keywords
career coaching; critical discursive psychology; deontics; epistemics; identity; interpretive repertoire

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