Biopower, governmentality, and capitalism through the lenses of freedom: A conceptual enquiry

Pakistan Business Review 14 (3):490-517 (2012)
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In this paper I propose a framework to understand the transition in Foucault’s work from the disciplinary model to the governmentality model. Foucault’s work on power emerges within the general context of an expression of capitalist rationality and the nature of freedom and power within it. I argue that, thus understood, Foucault’s transition to the governmentality model can be seen simultaneously as a deepening recognition of what capitalism is and how it works, but also as a recognition of the changing historical nature of the actually existing capitalisms and their specifically situated historical needs. I then argue that the disciplinary model should be understood as a contingent response to the demands of early capitalism, and argue that with the maturation of the capitalist enterprise many of those responses are no longer necessary. New realities require new responses; although this does not necessarily result in the abandonment of the earlier disciplinary model, it does require their reconfiguration according to the changed situation and the new imperatives following from it.

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Ali Rizvi
La Trobe University


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