What is Governmentality?

Governmentality is a concept first developed by the French philosopher Michel Foucault in the later years of his life, roughly between 1977 and his death in 1984, particularly in his lectures at the Collège de France during this time.

The concept has been elaborated further from an "Anglo-Neo Foucauldian" perspective in the social sciences, especially by authors such as Peter Miller, Nikolas Rose, and Mitchell Dean. Governmentality can be understood as:

  • the organized practices (mentalities, rationalities, and techniques) through which subjects are governed[1]

Governmentality may also be understood as:

  • the "art of government"[2]
  • the "how" of governing (that is, the calculated means of directing how we behave and act)[3]
  • "governmental rationality"[4]
  • "a 'guideline' for the analysis that Michel Foucault offers by way of historical reconstructions embracing a period starting from Ancient Greece right through to modernity and neo-liberalism"[5][6][7]
  • "the techniques and strategies by which a society is rendered governable"[8]
  • The 'reasoned way of governing best and, at the same time, reflection on the best possible way of governing'[9]

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