Risk And Governmentality By Michel Foucault

1151 Words Sep 25th, 2014 5 Pages
Risk and governmentality

Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, introduced the term governmentality in his lectures at Collège de France in the late1970s and early 1980s; so roughly between 1977 and 1984. The term governmentality refers to both the way in which a state governs the body of its population and to the way in which people are taught to govern themselves. In this paper I will explain what a ‘governmentality’ approach to risk means and what the implications of this approach are.

Foucault himself did not spend a lot of his time on the topic of risk in his writings about governmentality. According to Foucault, governmentality “was understood in the broad sense of techniques and procedures for directing human behaviour. Government of children, government of souls and consciences, government of a household, of a state, or of oneself”. Foucault argues that governmentality began to emerge in Europe in the sixteenth century and by the eighteenth century, “the early modern European states began to think of their citizens in terms of populations, or ‘society’, a social body requiring intervention, management and protection.”

From a Foucauldian perspective, the nature of risk is not the key question for the analysis of risk. Foucauldian writers see risk as a ‘calculative rationality’. Those who adopt the governmentality approach agree on the fact that risk is something that can be managed through human interventions. ‘Governmentality’ scholars explore risk in the…
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