What Is the Relationship Between Culture and Government?

Topics: Sociology, Michel Foucault, Political philosophy Pages: 7 (2325 words) Published: September 1, 2011
What is the relationship between culture and government?

It has been established by Foucault, Bennett and others how certain kinds of people need to tell the truth and regulate themselves in order to be better subjects within society. We can observe these factors in the many works of Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish to Sexuality. Foucault focuses upon that of human behaviour, orchestration of conduct and how techniques are programmed throughout society in everyday life. Looking at discursive formations – ways of talking about, describing and making knowledge claims about the object world and human subjects - Foucault suggests that, if knowledge was placed upon subjects, it would be productive as they would follow, allowing More politicised reasoning political rationalities and a broader use of, self-truth and behaviour in turn creating positive behaviour – ‘conduct of conduct’ Govern mentality was a concept first developed French philosopher, Michel Foucault. Foucault’s ideologies have been elaborated by the social sciences, achedmics acadmics and authors of different schools but Governmentality can still be understood and drawn upon in many different ways; for example, the way a government wants to produce better subjects-not only through government policies but also through organized mentalities, techniques and rationalities (the latter will be explored later in this assignment) in order to govern all society’s subjects through self-governance (again discussed later). However, Bushell would describe governmentality as the ‘art of government’ (Burchell:78) and this influences how individuals behave and act- what Foucault refers to as ‘governing oneself. Gordon suggests Foucault would term this ‘governmental rationality’ (Gordon 1991:1). Whatever terminology is applied to governementalitiy it will always be seen as ‘the techniques and strategies by which a society is rendered governable’

Foucault’s definition of governmentality is essential technical - meaning apparatuses of security (Burchell, Gordon and Miller, 1991: 102) the techniques used provide society with a feeling of economic, political, and cultural well-being. Foucault questioned and criticized social orders and human freedom, in the light of governmentality. Although it has been said that Foucault misunderstood Descartes Foucault went further to dismiss Descartes’ reasoning and elements of the enlightenment relating to intellectual, political and religious reasoning. Here we could state that Foucault’s perception of the relationship of culture and government is parallel to that of ‘freeing mankind’; however, as Locke had stated previously(two treaties of Government), subjects need to give up something in order to have a better life. Here we can also draw upon the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and his ideology - think for ourselves rather than accepting authority. In terms of government and culture this can be seen as that of reasoning for our self and trying to be free of rules, similar to that of Foucault’s Conduct of conduct and through his work for example: ‘The Subject and Power (1982) and ‘What is Enlightenment’ (1984). In Gordon’s The Foucault Effect he deals with the notion of governmentality and definitions from Gordon’s work, by drawing attention and challenges Foucault suggestions of ‘how and why’, According to Bushell (cited in Gordon) any definition of governmentality should incorporate all of Foucault’s intended ideas. A complete definition of the term governmentality must include not only government in terms of the state, but government in terms of any conduct of conduct. It can be said that the government achieved this by enforcing political economy at the level of all subjects within the state; this in turn would be directed at the culture, wealth and behavior of every individual. Other have said of Foucault that his ‘governmentality’ just describes the new form of governing that arose in the mid-eighteenth century and...

Bibliography: Foucault (1996): a critical reader (ed) David Couzens Hoy, Blackwell, Oxford
Foucault, M. (1997) Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, edited by Paul Rabinow, New York: New Press.
Foucault, Michel (1991) ‘Governmentality.’ In C. Gordon, G. Burchell and P. Miller (Eds) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Foucault, Michel (1926-1984)[1984] ‘The Foucault Reader.’ (Eds) by Paul Rainbow, Penguin, Harmondsworth
The Foucault effect (1991) Studies in Governmentality (ed) Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, Peter Miller, Harvester Wheatsheaf, London
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