MANCEPT workshop 2016 (September 7-9)
From Bureaucracy to Governmentality: Subjectification and Lived Experience
Convenors: Guido Barbi and Liesbeth Schoonheim
The physiognomy of the modern mass state has been subject to thorough analyses ranging from Max Weber’s assessment of bureaucracy as legal rule, Foucault’s thesis on governmentality as replacement of sovereignty, to Niklas Luhmann’s system-theoretical account. However, despite their insights into the logic of the contemporary state, it often remains unclear how to incorporate into their accounts the lived experiences of individuals vis-à-vis the state. The attention for subjectifying practices inherent to the modern state often comes at the expense of conceptualizing the individual’s potential for agency. Nonetheless, political subjects are increasingly subjected to these practices, which prevail not only in spheres usually associated with the state (e.g., education, health care), but are also reproduced by transnational organizations and extended to civil society (e.g., NGOs, social media). Given this condition, the question how political agency can assert itself vis-à-vis subjectifying practices becomes ever more urgent.