15. From Biopower to Governmentality

  1. Christopher Falzon2,
  2. Timothy O'Leary3 and
  3. Jana Sawicki4
  1. Johanna Oksala

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch15

A Companion to Foucault

A Companion to Foucault

How to Cite

Oksala, J. (2013) From Biopower to Governmentality, in A Companion to Foucault (eds C. Falzon, T. O'Leary and J. Sawicki), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch15

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Newcastle, Australia

  2. 3

    University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  3. 4

    Williams College, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 12 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334067

Online ISBN: 9781118324905



  • biopolitics;
  • biopower;
  • Foucauldian ontology;
  • governmentality;
  • liberalism;
  • pastoral power


This chapter discusses Foucault's conceptualizations of power-biopower, pastoral power, and governmentality developed mainly in his lecture courses at the College de France in the late 1970s. It also explicates his analysis of liberal and neoliberal governmentality central in these lectures-the forms of governmentality that he saw as specific to modern Western societies. Foucault did not intend these lectures to be published-they have only been published posthumously-and he regarded the arguments and ideas central in them as working hypotheses. The demands of biopolitics thus posed a theoretical challenge to liberal governmentality, and biopolitics and liberalism formed a historical intersection: they were linked de facto, not de jure.