Foucault News

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

Mark G.E. Kelly, The farce of the fifteen-minute city. Foucault and petty utopianism, IAI News, 17th May 2023

The 15 minute city has become a byword for modern planning, sustainability and the good life. To some it is a conspiracy designed to keep people in their place. However, through an understanding of Foucault, the allure of the 15 minute city is shown to be a modernist solution to a postmodern world writes professor Mark G.E. Kelly.

The concept of the 15-minute city, though based on rather older ideas in urban planning, has risen to quite sudden prominence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, having been first proposed as a way to improve cities that leans into the pandemic-associated movement restrictions by trying to reimagine urban living to eliminate lengthy commuting, and then become in turn a magnet for conspiracy theories that already understood the very pandemic itself as an exercise in social engineering. In sorting out this mess, I would recommend you to consider the thought of Michel Foucault, who understood contemporary societies in terms of the interaction of power and knowledge to discipline the bodies of individuals and thereby minutely to regulate populations, as allowing a critical view of such ideas that does not require us to believe in a grand conspiratorial narrative.

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