Accepted Paper:

Bringing together STS and studies of governmentality: Mapping contemporary apparatuses of government   

Author:

Thomas Lemke (Goethe Universität)

Paper short abstract:

The talk proposes the concept of “apparatus of government” to bring together STS and an analytics of government following Foucault. The guiding idea is to provide a posthuman and performative understanding of the apparatus that also attends to power relations and political strategies.

Paper long abstract:

The talk proposes the concept of "apparatus of government" to bring together STS and an analytics of government following Foucault. The guiding idea is to provide a posthuman and performative understanding of the apparatus that also attends to power relations and political strategies. I argue that this theoretical synthesis allows for a "more fully materialist theory of politics" (Braun/Whatmore 2010: x), as it helps to correct the problems many accounts in political sociology and in social and political theory face in addressing transformations and changes in contemporary societies. The conceptual proposal of an "apparatus of government" also seeks to overcome serious shortcomings and problems of studies of governmentality.

I will argue that such a perspective is characterized by three distinctive features. First, the concept of the apparatus of government goes beyond social constructivism and classical realism by endorsing a praxeological account of apparatuses. Secondly, it combines and integrates the material and semiotic elements it consists of. It makes it possible to analyse the intertwined relations between meaning and matter without systematically distinguishing between them. Thirdly, the concept of the apparatus of government makes visible the contingent boundaries and material conditions of politics by exposing the limits of anthropocentric modes of thought. It helps to conceive of the human subject rather as a result of the workings of the apparatuses than someone outside or exterior to them.

Panel T036
Social Studies of Politics: Making Collectives By All Possible Means