name that foucault

There’s a concept central to Foucault’s work that has so entered the common theoretical discourse that I’m having trouble locating an original source for it. The concept is that institutions, practices, discourses produce subjects that “fit” them. People have called this a precursor to current “performativity” theories. Julia Paley documents a similar phenomenon with respect to polling and the “choice-making citizen” in Chile; I made a kind of similar argument with respect to elections in southern Africa; I’m sure there are lots of other examples. The concept is Durkheimian in a sense too (the collectivity produces the character of its individuals), but what I’m looking for right now is the Foucault version. Any leads? Thanks.

Author: andrewperrin

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

6 thoughts on “name that foucault”

  1. Maybe?

    Foucault, Michel. 1994. “The Subject and Power.” Pg. 326-348 in The Essential Foucault: Power, Vol. 3. Edited by James D. Faubion. New York: The New Press.


  2. How about the section on docile bodies in Discipline and Punish? The ways in which the technologies of power of the modern age construct subjects of a particular kind — those best suited for the “new” work of a modern economy.


  3. Are you looking for the concept of “govermentality”, perhaps? Look to his lectures “The birth of biopolitics : lectures at the Collège de France”, 1978-1979, Michel Foucault ; edited by Michel Senellart.


  4. I think its the same lecture that stsguru mentioned, but I would suggest this book-

    “The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality
    with Two Lectures by and an Interview with Michel Foucault ”
    Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (eds.)
    Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991

    Specifically the chapter with Foucault’s lecture on governmentality as well as Graham Burchell’s extension of it to civil society.


  5. Also Nicholas Rose has done quite a bit to interpret and extend the concept of governmentality. You may find Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (1989) helpful in this regard.


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