From Government to Governance

  • Maria Bonnafous-Boucher


From a cosmopolitical point of view, the concept of ‘government’ is generally subsumed under that of ‘governance’. The term ‘governance’ covers various types of practices — economic (corporate governance); political (European governance); and both political and economic (global governance). From the cosmopolitical perspective, the issue is not what government is, or even what the best type of government is and how to achieve it, but what definition can be attached to the slippage from the concept of government to that of governance, and what the nature of this modification is. Are we dealing with an accidental occurrence (a mere chance semantic slippage) or with an inevitable process? And if it is an inevitable process, by what necessity is governance applied to both economics and politics, whose rules are apparently so distinct? If the term governance covers the spheres of both public and private life, should we conclude that there exists a sole, all-encompassing form of governance, or several different ones? In order to reply to these questions, I shall use Foucault’s concept of ‘governmentality’, which I believe to be close to the notion of governance. Developed as part of a project to understand a certain stage of liberalism, governmentality expresses three things: firstly, a notion of the act of governing; secondly, an always already-existing interpenetrability of the economic in the political and the political in the economic (in regard to which Foucault wrote that ‘the introduction of the economic into the exercise of politics [was] the essential issue of government and governmentality’); and thirdly, an internal logic which is a political rationality of a specific nature.


Permeability Economic Crisis Europe Arena Rium 


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© Maria Bonnafous-Boucher 2005

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  • Maria Bonnafous-Boucher

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