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The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979 (Cours au Collège de France/Lectures at the Collège de France #7)

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  756 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Michel Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France in 1979, The Birth of Biopolitics, pursue and develop further the themes of his lectures from the previous year, Security, Territory, Population. Having shown how Eighteenth century political economy marks the birth of a new governmental rationality – seeking maximum effectiveness by governing less and in accordance with ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 17th 2008 by Palgrave Macmillan (first published 2004)
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Docked one star because my 25th birthday will now forever be associated with neoliberalism and the logic of the market economy. Damn youuuu Foucauuuuuult! *shakes fist*
Gregory Sotir
Mar 18, 2012 Gregory Sotir rated it really liked it
Foucault is Foucault, what can you say. Difficult and fascinating, able to comprehensively join together the currents and threads of our culture in an intellectually rigorous and stimulating way. These lectures gave me a far greater understanding of liberalism and neoliberalism than I believe I could have gained anywhere else. Listening to pundits and American politicians speak of these trends of capitalism after reading this just shows how unlearned most Americans are of things they should know ...more
Rui Coelho
Sep 23, 2016 Rui Coelho rated it it was ok
An history of liberalism. Foucault meant to speak about biopolitics but got lost in the introduction and now his fail is published for everyone to see.
Jan 02, 2013 Katarina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since biopolitics comes out of the liberal need for limitation of government, the plan was to discuss liberalism in its classical and contemporary forms and then come to the discussion of politics of life. But Foucault never comes to the second part so this book is actually the comprehensive guide to the development of liberalism and neo-liberalism.

It starts with the Freiburg School which dealt with the same Weberian "irrational rationality" of capitalism as the Frankfurt School, but takes a co
Apr 21, 2013 Yongtaek rated it it was amazing
Excellent analysis about the neo-liberal governmentality!

Above all decisive differentia between German neo-liberalism(ordoliberalism) and American neo-liberalism.

Röpke said:“Competition is a principle of order in the domain of the market economy, but it is not a principle on which it would be possible to erect the whole of society. Morally and sociologically, competition is a principle that dissolves more than it unifies.”So, while establishing a policy such that competition can function econom
Kyriakos Michail
Nov 05, 2015 Kyriakos Michail rated it really liked it
A bit hard to read and sadly Foucault didn't describe that much in depth biopolitics here but rather economy and liberalism. Good book to read for anyone interested in these three topics
Michael Mena
Sep 23, 2016 Michael Mena rated it it was amazing
Most definitely his most illustrative writings on governmentality. Will pair well with HS1, especially the later lectures on homo economicus.
Conor Heaney
Apr 01, 2014 Conor Heaney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picking up, at least at the beginning, from the 77-78 'Security, Territory, Population' lectures - where Foucault first delved into governmentality - The Birth of Biopolitics serves as Foucault's promise to talk about, well, biopolitics. He doesn't do this at all. Instead, Foucault tracks the problem of liberal governmentality through a level of analysis concerned with the rationality (or rather, types of rationality) by which state administration functions and proceeds. Liberalism, then, is vie ...more
Sep 17, 2012 Matt rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A decent if long-winded analysis of trends in liberal government since the Enlightenment. This was supposed to be an in-depth treatment of "biopolitics", or government intervention in the biological characteristics of the population (and this in turn an extension of Foucault's power-knowledge-self relationship).

However he never quite gets there as these lectures focus almost entirely on the twin movements of German ordoliberalism and American neo-liberalism (exemplified by the Chicago School of
Jun 07, 2015 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, I'll admit that my reading of this book is shaped by Wendy Brown's analysis of the lectures in Undoing the Demos. But I think she's right, that this is one of Foucault's least Foucauldian books. His general modus operandi is to construct a genealogy for an existing state of affairs and show how the dominant relations of power have shaped a social reality. Here, Foucault is working with a political economic theory on the cusp of breaking out an exerting its influence, which really happens ...more
Roger Green
Dec 07, 2016 Roger Green rated it it was amazing
Such brilliance and subtlety. Anyone interested in a robust historical tracking of the emergence of neoliberalism as a set of practices and rational conduct as opposed to a set of values ought to read this closely.
Nov 20, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: rhetoric
I don't agree with every word he's ever said, but I do think Foucault is one of my academic heroes, especially his method of lecture. It's nice to see he is human, because these lectures, which I was so excited to read, get side tracked into a long history of German neo-liberalism and he kind of has to rush through the biopolitics part at the end--the part, sadly, that I was most interested in. But he gets an extra star for being so engaging and clear to read while going off on his tangent. Grea ...more
Jaycob Izso
Jan 16, 2015 Jaycob Izso rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The series of lectures are exceptionally detailed and rich. Foucault spends the opening few weeks wandering through a basic sense of his overall methodology as he closes in on an intelligibility of neoliberalism. This approach lays the groundwork for what Foucault understands as a largely non dialectical nor particularly historicized shift or build from Raison d'etat, the police state, and eventually into neoliberalism as sort of grid in which the individual is understood as a behavioral manifes ...more
Nov 07, 2012 Micah rated it it was ok
A bit boring, really. . . A lot of this is summary and review of neo-liberal economists, who, let's face it, aren't exactly brilliant writers. Foucault gestures to a concept of "governmentality" that seems to be a heterogeneous rationality, legal and economic policy, international diplomacy, philosophical concepts, etc., but this is narrowed down to an almost purely intellectual history of a few figures who were surely influential but hardly solely responsible for "biopolitics." Of all "technolo ...more
Matti Paasio
Sep 20, 2015 Matti Paasio rated it really liked it
Biopolitics? I know... Forget the title: these lectures deal with liberalism, or neoliberalism, and little else. They are "Foucault's sole incursion into the the field of contemporary history throughout his teaching at the Collège de France." The book makes you wish he had gone further down that road. Maybe he got scared of what he was getting into, what he was turning into. Spooky! Handle with care. "There is a refusal to 'recognize that the rise of Fascism and Nazism was not a reaction against ...more
May 19, 2013 Dakota rated it really liked it
If you want to know about biopolitics, this is not really the book to read. Foucault spent the majority of this semester detailing the ways in which his studies of liberalism, ordoliberlaism, and neoliberalism set the stage for his notion of biopolitics, but he doesn't actually get around to lecturing about biopolitics. Nonetheless, a fascinating read for anyone interested in "regimes of veridiction," as institutionalized systems of legitimate knowledge production and the effect this has on indi ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Wersly rated it really liked it
Tough to follow at times, but rewarding. Though I will note: the title is quite misleading. Foucault spends most of his time going over his own vision of the economic history of the 20th century, particularly discussing the development of ordoliberalism in Germany. The notion of 'biopolitics' is only really touched on for a few pages before Foucault apologizes, says he's wasted too much time on economic history, and then returns to more economic history. Despite this, it's still a supremely thor ...more
Michaël Cousin
Nov 22, 2015 Michaël Cousin rated it it was amazing
Would like to know the birth of security measures? Why we talk to much about liberties? about entrepreneurship? Foucault understood all these questions and saw what is happening actually in the Occident and massively all over the world. You'll never see the world like before after reading this book.
Luke Echo
Dec 27, 2015 Luke Echo rated it really liked it
The first lecture series by Foucault that I have read. It was quite enjoyable, and provided a kind of insight in Foucaults method and object that I did not have from reading the published books (ie Discipline and Punish, Madness and Civilisation). Tempted to continue immediately with 1979-1980 "On The Government of the Living".
Mar 22, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing
These lectures are excellent because in them we find Foucault draw on his ideas about power and bio-politics to analyze contemporary political scene in a way in which we do not find in any of his other major works.
Mar 06, 2012 Therese rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
The clearest and most compelling account of the development of economics and neoliberal economics I've read. It also reads like a script of our current political debacle in the US. So much clearer than the usual Foucault.
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Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and lectured at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences and the prison sys
More about Michel Foucault...

Other Books in the Series

Cours au Collège de France/Lectures at the Collège de France (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Lectures on the Will to Know: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1970-1971, & Oedipal Knowledge
  • The Punitive Society: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1972-1973
  • Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1973-1974
  • Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974-1975
  • Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976
  • Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977-1978
  • On the Government of the Living: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1979-1980
  • Subjectivité et vérité. Cours au Collège de France, 1980-1981
  • The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1981-82
  • The Government of Self and Others: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1982–1983

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