Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Mortimer Sellers, Stephan Kirste

Law and Governmentality

  • Bal Sokhi-BulleyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6730-0_246-1

We live in an era of governmentality discovered in the eighteenth century. Michel Foucault (2007, p. 109)


“Governmentality” is an “ugly word” (Foucault 2007, p. 115). It is, nevertheless, an interesting and important word to understand the institutional processes of governing, and implicitly of law, in our modern neoliberal era. Governmentality is not a “theory”; it is, rather, a concept and a tool by which to better understand what governing is and how it can be thought. The neologism is commonly attributed to Michel Foucault, who has at different times been labeled a philosopher, social historian, and poststructuralist. When Foucault gave the “Governmentality lecture” in February of 1978 at the Collège de France his title was Professor of The History of Systems of Thought (Foucault 2007, pp. 87–110); perhaps it is this lack of allegiance to a particular discipline, and focus on how to think“things” (e.g., government), that has meant that governmentality has been...

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Copyright information

© Crown 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Politics and SociologyUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Patricia Mindus
    • 1
  • Sebastian Andres Reyes Molina
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden