18. Foucault, Religion, and Pastoral Power

  1. Christopher Falzon2,
  2. Timothy O'Leary3 and
  3. Jana Sawicki4
  1. Jeremy Carrette

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch18

A Companion to Foucault

A Companion to Foucault

How to Cite

Carrette, J. (2013) Foucault, Religion, and Pastoral Power, in A Companion to Foucault (eds C. Falzon, T. O'Leary and J. Sawicki), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch18

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 Kent, UK

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334067

Online ISBN: 9781118324905



  • Christianity;
  • Foucault;
  • governmentality;
  • pastoral power;
  • political power;
  • religion


In this essay, the author shows how Foucault's discussions of pastoral power relate to a wider “analytics” of religious power set down in 1975 and 1976 before he deploys the language of the “pastoral”. In shifting the discussion of pastoral power to a wider trajectory, the author considers the question of whether pastoral power persists after the historical shift to governmentality. The chapter maps the specific features of Foucault's idea of pastoral power in the 1977–78 College de France course and, aided by the “dry and schematic character” of the lectures. It examines one of the most neglected aspects of pastoral power, the theological relation of pastoral power, something brought to light in the 1977–78 course. The priority Foucault gave to pastoral power is significant not only for its “decisive” historical importance, but also in showing something of how “religion is a political force”.