Governmentality and State Theory: Reinventing the Reinvented Wheel?

In Theory and Event 15.3 (2012).
Website Michel Foucaults Philosophie


In this paper we pose the question what constitutes the originality of governmentality as a state analytical framework by confronting it with alternative contemporary approaches in state theory, suggesting that the latter may already contain many of the insights Foucaultians sometimes tend to ascribe to the governmentality perspective exclusively and thus run the risk of reinventing the state theoretical wheel. Still, we argue that there is something unique to the governmentality perspective, namely a particular kind of unwieldy knowledge about the state it aims to produce. Generating such knowledge would no longer be state theory but rather state philosophy in a specifically Foucaultian sense.