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”Governmentality” in world politics

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In this chapter I take a look at how actors in the international system (including states) as well as the things they try to govern are shaped in the first place. The French thinker Michel Foucault coined a new term – governmentality – to try to capture the ways that not just ideas but bodies of knowledge (savoirs) and technologies of governing provide frameworks (or ‘book-ends’) for behaviour and governing within a society. These ideas have recently been applied to relations between polities. The idea is to uncover how such frameworks for understanding and action operate in the international sphere. The chapter proceeds as follows:
Section 1 presents a brief account of a shift in frameworks of governing that began to take place from around the seventeenth century. As new knowledge-based tools of statecraft such as statistics began to be increasingly utilised, the basic focus of governing shifted from dominating territory towards a new aim of governing populations and their lives. From this account, I draw out some basic characteristics of ‘governmentalities’.
Section 2 looks at how governmentalities operated in more recent times and analyses frameworks guiding the politics of development since the 1980s. You will read about the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation, financial liberalisation and the promotion of markets known collectively as ‘the Washington Consensus’. The politics of development illustrates that governmentalities – even ones based on ideas about freedom – are never neutral bodies of knowledge but always expressions of power and therefore often significant political battlegrounds themselves.
Section 3 considers whether a rival ‘Beijing Consensus’ is emerging around the Chinese model of development, offering a distinct approach to interacting with developing countries. This underscores the idea that even dominant governmentalities are always in competition with others.
Section 4 offers some reflections on the idea of a ‘global governmentality’ and how it affects not just the actors in international politics and their identities but also objects of governance in international relations.
TitelInternational Relations : Continuity and Change in Global Politics
RedaktørerWilliam Brown, Olaf Corry, Agnes Czajka
Udgivelses stedMilton Keynes
ForlagOpen University Press
StatusUdgivet - 2014

ID: 173093660