ABSTRACT

Chapter 4 traces the history of crisis as a discourse across biopolitical concerns with the social body and the emergence of the capitalist state. Drawing on Foucault’s early work and more recent genealogical accounts, it stresses the productive features of crisis for forming bodies and subjecting them to treatments in the name of health and wellbeing. Drawing on interviews and documentary data, it then turns to constructions of ‘clients in crisis’ in food bank spaces and shows how food aid is made conditional on confessions of individual crises and the performance of genuine need. In the pastoral regime of food banks, disciplinary and paternalistic mechanisms are retained to ‘nudge’ clients into desired directions and create obedient and well-informed consumers of advice services. Here, the cultural influence of behavioural economics and the psychopolitics of ‘nudge’ become visible in the targeting of behavioural factors and skills gaps as solutions to poverty.