A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus: Foucault, Neoliberalism, and the Production of Subjectivity
Chapter from A Foucault for the 21st Century: Governmentality, Biopolitics and Discipline in the New Millennium, edited by Sam Binkley and Jorge Capetillo.
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How relevant is Foucault’s social thought to the world we inhabit today?
This collection comprises several essays considering the contemporary relevance of the work of Michel Foucault. While Foucault is best remembered for his historical inquiries into the origins of “disciplinary” society in a period extending from the 16th to the 19th centuries, it seems that today, under the conditions of global modernity, the relevance of his ideas are called into question. With the increasing ubiquity of markets, the break up of centralized states and the dissolution of national boundaries, together with new scientific and political discourses on biological life, the world of today seems far removed from the bounded, disciplinary societies Foucault described in his most famous books. Yet in recent years, it has become apparent that Foucault’s thoughts on modern society have not been exhausted, and, indeed, that much remains to be explored. Within this volume, novel interpretations and thematic developments of key Foucauldian concepts are presented in the works of 24 authors. Prominent among them are new forms of neoliberal economic conduct framed by distinct governmentalities; new critical concepts of biological life reflected in Foucault’s analysis of biopower, and new theoretical treatments of the effects of subjectivation. Moreover, included among these theoretical departures are empirical studies of contemporary formations of religion and spiritual practice, consumerism, race and racism, the discourse of genetics and the life sciences, surveillance and incarceration, and new social movements. Drawn from a conference held at the University of Massachusetts, Boston bearing the same title, A Foucault for the 21st Century: Governnentality, Biopolitics and Discipline in the New Millennium both expands our understanding of Foucault’s central theoretical legacy, and applies his ideas to a range of contemporary empirical phenomena.
Cambridge Scholars Press
Read, J. (2010). A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus: Foucault, Neoliberalism, and the Production of Subjectivity. In Binkley, S. & Capetillo, J. (Eds.), A Foucault for the 21st Century: Governmentality, Biopolitics and Discipline in the New Millennium (pp. 2-15). Cambridge Scholars Press.