Governmentality and Statification: Towards a Foucauldian Theory of the State

Mathias Hein Jessen, Nicolai von Eggers

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This article contributes to governmentality studies and state theory by discussing how to understand the centrality and importance of the state from a governmentality perspective. It uses Giorgio Agamben’s critique of Michel Foucault’s governmentality approach as a point of departure for re-investigating Foucault as a thinker of the state. It focuses on Foucault’s notion of the state as a process of ‘statification’ which emphasizes the state as something constantly produced and reproduced by processes and practices of government, administration and acclamation. As a result of this, the state appears as a given entity which is necessary for the multiplicity of governmental technologies and practices in modern society to function. Only by reference to the state can governmental practices be effective and legitimized. Finally, the article conceptualizes the centrality of the state through Foucault’s (preliminary) notions of the state as a ‘practico-reflexive prism’ and a ‘principle of intelligibility’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-72
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 12. June 2019


  • Giorgio Agamben
  • Michel Foucault
  • Governmentality
  • Sovereignty
  • State

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