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Rationalities of government in contemporary America: A Foucaultian study of domestic and foreign policy (1960-2008).

Fournier, Philippe (2008) Rationalities of government in contemporary America: A Foucaultian study of domestic and foreign policy (1960-2008). PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis aims to evaluate the critical potential of a foucaultian approach to Politics and International Relations by looking at the main rationalities of government in the last 45 years in the United States. In order to investigate the practical and ideational elements that shape the formation of subjectivity in contemporary America, I explore the possible combinations between the various forms of power that Foucault talks about, most notably governmentality, discipline and sovereign power. By addressing the existing attempts to combine the above forms of power in IR and sociological literature, I intend to qualify the scope and applicability of governmentality. The thesis therefore works on two levels. First, it attends to the theoretical expositions and problematizations of governmentality. Second, it concentrates on the technical and intellectual transformations that have taken place across domestic and foreign policy domains in contemporary America. In spite of the need to qualify the use of governmentality, I argue that the foucaultian understanding of the transformation of subjectivity through the reproduction of social, cultural and economic criteria and practices, offers the best possible perspective to engage with present-day political forms. Throughout the history of American rationalities of rule, a reliance on the development of individual qualities and the ongoing suggestion of civic responsibilities have battled out to constitute governmental arrangements at any given time. In the transformation from a welfare oriented rationale to a neoliberal governance through community, two of the most important political rationalities, neoconservatism and neoliberalism, have produced compelling versions of social behaviour as well as discourses which have influenced foreign and domestic policy courses. A look at the governmental shifts in recent American history shows that the understandings of both freedom and responsibility have become increasingly narrow and specific. Disciplinary measures on welfare recipients and developing countries receiving American assistance have intensified, and security imperatives have periodically upset the normal operation of governmentality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Law and Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International Relations

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