The Rise of Neo-Liberal Governmentality

  • John G. Glenn
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


This chapter focuses on two historic moments through the Foucauldian framework of governmentality: the recent financial crises and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. In so doing, it argues that the core policies adopted since 2008 are marked more by continuance than change. Neo-liberalism still dominates, and the further retrenchment of the state and marketization of the social sphere is readily apparent. The chapter argues that the 1971 crisis heralded enormous changes in the modes of governmentality in the highly industrialized countries, both in terms of governing rationalities (an intensification in the marketization of the social sphere) and the reconstitution of subjectivities. At the regulatory level, rather than adopting the interventionary measures of previous decades a much more hands-off approach was introduced that relied upon the power of the market rather than the state per se. These changes coincided with the shift towards financialization and the rise of global production chains as a result of the restructuring of national economies. However, the second major economic crisis (actualized as a series of crises) in the core industrialized countries has not led to another innovatory restructuring in the actual economy. Instead, we have witnessed the continuing retrenchment of the state and further marketization of the social sphere.

A new discourse has emerged around resilience thinking with an emphasis on the inculcation of certain dispositions that enable citizens to adapt and survive when confronted with crises. Although this discourse is relatively new (at least in the economic sphere), this chapter argues that it coheres with neo-liberalism and has, by and large, become integrated into the dominant discourse of the latter. This chapter therefore argues that the fundamental principles of neo-liberal governmentality regimes remain unchanged: the basic principles of neo-liberalism remain in place and an emphasis on market-led solutions, as opposed to Keynesian demand management or another alternative approach, continues.


Bretton Woods Financialization Privatized Keynesianism Financial crisis 2007/8 Resilience thinking 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John G. Glenn
    • 1
  1. 1.Politics and International RelationsUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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