The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France, 1978-1979 (Lectures at the Collge de France)

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Synopsis: this liberal governmentality.  This involves describing the political rationality within which the specific problems of life and population were posed:  "Studying liberalism as the general framework of biopolitics".
 
What are the specific features of the liberal art of government as they were outlined in the Eighteenth century?  What crisis of governmentality characterises the present world and what revisions of liberal government has it given rise to?  This is the diagnostic task addressed by Foucault's study of the two major twentieth century schools of neo-liberalism:  German ordo-liberalism and the neo-liberalism of the Chicago School.  In the years he taught at the Collège de France, this was Michel Foucault's sole foray into the field of contemporary history.  This course thus raises questions of political philosophy and social policy that are at the heart of current debates about the role and status of neo-liberalism in twentieth century politics.  A remarkable feature of these lectures is their discussion of contemporary economic theory and practice, culminating in an analysis of the model of homo oeconomicus.
 
Foucault's analysis also highlights the paradoxical role played by "society" in relation to government.  "Society" is both that in the name of which government strives to limit itself, but it is also the target for permanent governmental intervention to produce, multiply, and guarantee the freedoms required by economic liberalism.  Far from being opposed to the State, civil society is thus shown to be the correlate of a liberal technology of government.   

About the Author: MICHEL FOUCAULT, acknowledged as the pre-eminent philosopher of France in the 1970s and 1980s, continues to have enormous impact throughout the world in many disciplines.

ARNOLD I. DAVIDSON is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and Professor of the History of Political Philosophy at the University of Pisa.  He is co-editor of the volume Michel Foucault: Philosophie.

GRAHAM BURCHELL is Translator, and has written essays on Michel Foucault and is an Editor of The Foucault Effect.

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