The Affective Turn: The Ambivalence of Biopolitics Within Modern Labour and Management

Alexander Carnera

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This paper confronts biopolitics with modern labour addressing questions of ‘governmentality’, ‘self-management’ and ‘social innovation’. It argues that the new modes of production within immaterial labour involve a new complex relation between on the one hand the ‘Art of Governance’ (Governmentality) related to different forms of control, and on the other hand new modes of existences connected to co-operation, social innovation and experimental projects. The paper then argues for a more positive conception of biopolitics using self-management as a strategy since it is through self-management that human individuation ties together modes of productions with affects and emotions. Introducing Spinoza's concept of ‘affect’, and Gilles Deleuze's reading of Spinoza's ethics focusing on the ‘affective turn’ in relation to the new economy and society, the paper argues for a more positive notion of biopolitics that surpasses that of governmentality. The affective self-relation is used as a research tool to analyse the creation of social and economic values in our new modes of productions, for instance, within free labour of the cultural industry. The movie The Five Obstructions is used to show how organizing good affective encounters based on limitations enhance and facilitate the performative dimension of self-management. Finally, the paper addresses the problem of critique confronting self-relation with Spinoza's ethics as an ethical difference of powe
Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)69-84
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Biopolitics
  • Governmentality
  • Self-management
  • Affective Connectabilities
  • Organizing Encounters
  • The Five Obstructions
  • Power
  • Powerlessness
  • Critique

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