chapter  12
13 Pages

Governmentality

Foucault’s concept for our modern political reasoning
WithKaspar Villadsen

Social theorist Michel Foucault's concept of 'governmentality' has achieved significant importance within the social sciences and humanities. Foucault's articulation of the governmentality concept is as an attempt to contest contemporary political ideologies, but which nevertheless shared the 'over-valuation of the state', the conception of the state as the ultimate centre of power. Governmentality serves as an analytical perspective that has paved the way for specific empirical analysis and it is the concept that has had its greatest impact. Governmentality involves tracing the strategies for handling practical problems of government and the corollary production of knowledge. Foucault wished to detach the problem of power from the central state and from prohibitive juridical and police regulation. This strategy of detachment is evident in the ways that Foucault rendered the terms 'government' and 'governmentality'. Thus, governmentality is a framework for analysis that begins with the observation that governance is a very widespread phenomenon, in no way confined to the sphere of the state.