La dernière décennie de Michel Foucault a coïncidé avec l'agonie des espoirs de transformation sociale qui avaient marqué l'après-guerre. Face à cette « fin de la révolution », le philosophe a tenté de réinventer la manière dont nous pensons la politique et la résistance, ce que sa génération n'avait, jugeait-il, pas réussi à faire.
C'est dans cette perspective qu'il s'est intéressé au néolibéralisme en tant qu'outil permettant de repenser les fondements conceptuels de la gauche et d'imaginer une gouvernementalité plus tolérante aux expérimentations sociales, ouvrant un espace aux pratiques minoritaires et à une plus grande autonomie du sujet vis-à-vis de lui-même. Le moyen, en somme, de réaliser le projet énoncé à la fin de sa vie, celui de n'être « pas tellement gouverné ». Et c'est ainsi que, dans sa quête d'une « gouvernementalité de gauche », Foucault a anticipé et contribué, en quelque sorte, au façonnement de la situation politique contemporaine.
"Mitchell Dean has written an outstandingly clear and scholarly introduction to the central theses and methods of the analysis of the mentalities and techniques of rule... He not only provides a guide to Foucault's own thought in this area, but he also draws upon other key thinkers in contemporary social theory to develop original and illuminating analysis of some principle formations of political power. Dean's book should become required reading not just for those interested in the work of Michel Foucault, but for all those who are concerned with the dilemmas of contemporary politics."
- Nikolas Rose, Goldsmiths, Praise for the First Edition
Originally published in 1999 this exceptionally clear and lucid book quickly became the standard overview of what are now called 'governmentality studies'.
With its emphasis on the relationship between governmentality and other key concepts drawn from Michel Foucault, such as bio-politics and sovereignty, the first edition anticipated and defined the terms of contemporary debate and analysis. In this timely second edition Mitchell Dean engages with the full textual basis of Foucault's lectures and once again provides invaluable insights into the traditions, methods and theories of political power identifying the authoritarian as well as liberal sides of governmentality.
Every chapter has been fully revised and updated to incorporate, and respond to, new theoretical, social and political developments in the field; a new introduction surveying the state of governmentality today has also been added as well as a completely new chapter on international governmentality.
"When it comes to 'power', it can often feel as if everyone is talking about it, yet no one appears to have given it any thought. Well, not quite. In this original and timely book, Mitchell Dean provides a characteristically thoughtful and incisive analysis that aims to renovate the concept of power through an understanding of its signature and how it works. Through a thorough and intelligent engagement with the work of Foucault, Schmitt, and Agamben, their lacuna and failings, Dean pieces together a clear and precise account of sovereignty, governmentality, and bio-politics, which has much to commend it."
- Paul Du Gay, Copenhagen Business School
"Dean's erudite and relentlessly critical reading of Foucault, Schmitt and Agamben extracts from these authors new insights about the signature of power ... Immensely valuable and a major contribution to social and political thought."
- William Walters, Carleton University
Mitchell Dean revitalized the study of `governmentality' with his bestselling book of the same title. His new book on power is a landmark work.
It combines an extraordinary breadth of perspective with pinpoint accuracy about what power means for us today. For students it provides sharp readings of the main approaches in the field. On this level, it operates as a foundational work in the study of power. It builds on this to reframe the concept of power, offering original and exceptionally fruitful reading. It throws new light onto the importance of biopolitics, sovereignty and governmentality.
Mitchell Dean has established himself as a master of governmentality. This new book will do the same for how we conceptualize and use power.
Mitchell Dean is Professor of Public Governance at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark and Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle, Australia.