Governing the Soul: The Theoretical Support of Michel Foucault

  • Chris Dolan
Part of the Educational Leadership Theory book series (ELT)


In the schematics of chapter arrangement, the positioning of this chapter is to create useful imagery about an already established relevance of Foucault’s work to the conceptual frame of paradox and to suggest important support for what lies ahead. His work is here treated as exceeding the complementarity of its application in Chap.  2 to be considered epistemologically crucial to arguments made in the chapters which follow. The theoretical resources discussed in this chapter – built around the central concept of governmentality – are predominantly directed to my analysis of policy discourses of neoliberalism in Chap.  4 and the construction and representation of field data using paradox in Chaps.  6,  7 and  8. The deployment of Foucault’s tools of problematisation and critique is held over until Chap.  4, when they are used to both inform and illuminate a struggle for the ‘soul’ of the principal.


  1. Bacchi, C. (2000). Policy as discourse: What does it mean? Where does it get us? Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 21(1), 45–57.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, P. L. J. (2013). The policy dispositif: Historical formation and method. Journal of Education Policy, 28(6), 807–827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ball, S. J. (2006). Education policy and social class the selected works of Stephen J. Ball. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Ball, S. J. (2012). Global Education Inc. New policy networks and the neoliberal imaginary. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bardon, T., & Josserand, E. (2011). A Nietzschean reading of Foucauldian thinking: Constructing a project of the self within an ontology of becoming. Organization, 18(4), 497–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bevir, M. (1999). Foucault and critique: Deploying agency against autonomy. Political Theory, 27(1), 65–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Biesta, G. (2008). Toward a new ‘logic’ of emancipation: Foucault and Rancière. Philosophy of Education Yearbook, 169–177.Google Scholar
  8. Butin, D. W. (2001). If this is resistance I would hate to see domination: Retrieving Foucault’s notion of resistance within educational research. Educational Studies, 32(2), 157–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Butler, J. (1997). The psychic life of power: Theories in subjection. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Butler, J. (2005). Giving an account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clarke, J., Bainton, D., Lendvai, N., & Stubbs, P. (2015). Making policy move: Towards a politics of translation and assemblage. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Connolly, W. E. (2002). Identity, difference: Democratic negotiations of political paradox. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  13. Dardot, P., & Laval, C. (2014). The new way of the world: On neoliberal society. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  14. Dean, M. (2002). Critical and effective histories: Foucault’s methods and historical sociology. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dean, M. (2010). Governmentality: Power and rule in modern society (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Fairhurst, G. T. (2009). Considering context in discursive leadership research. Human Relations, 62(11), 1607–1633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flew, T. (2012). Michel Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics and contemporary neo-liberalism debates. Thesis Eleven, 108(1), 44–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  19. Foucault, M. (1977a). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. Foucault, M. (1977b). Theatrum philosophicum. In D. F. Bouchard (Ed.), Language, counter-memory, practice: Selected essays and interviews (pp. 165–196). New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Foucault, M. (1978). The history of sexuality. Volume 1, an introduction (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  22. Foucault, M. (1980a). Confessions of the flesh. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972–1977 (pp. 194–228). New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  23. Foucault, M. (1980b). Power and strategies. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972–1977 (pp. 134–145). New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  24. Foucault, M. (1980c). Truth and power. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–77 (pp. 109–133). New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  25. Foucault, M. (1980d). Two lectures. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972–1977 (pp. 78–108). New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  26. Foucault, M. (1981). The order of discourse. In R. Young (Ed.), Untying the text: A post-structuralist reader (pp. 48–78). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Foucault, M. (1987). The ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom: An interview with Michel Foucault on January 20, 1984. Philosophy & Social Criticism, 12(2–3), 112–131.Google Scholar
  29. Foucault, M. (1988a). The return of morality. In L. D. Kritzman (Ed.), Politics, philosophy, culture: Interviews and other writings, 1977–1984 (pp. 242–254). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Foucault, M. (1988b). Technologies of the self: A seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  31. Foucault, M. (1991). Governmentality. In G. Burchell, C. Gordon, & P. Miller (Eds.), The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Foucault, M. (2000a). The masked philosopher (R. Hurley, Trans.). In P. Rabinow (Ed.), Ethics: Subjectivity and truth (pp. 321–328). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  33. Foucault, M. (2000b). Polemics, politics and problematizations (R. Hurley, Trans.). In P. Rabinow (Ed.), Ethics: Subjectivity and truth (pp. 111–120). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  34. Foucault, M. (2000c). Sexuality and solitude (R. Hurley, Trans.). In P. Rabinow (Ed.), Ethics: Subjectivity and truth (pp. 175–184). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  35. Foucault, M. (2001). Fearless speech. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  36. Foucault, M. (2007). Security, territory, population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  37. Foucault, M. (2008). The birth of biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  38. Fraser, N. (1989). Unruly practices: Power, discourse, and gender in contemporary social theory. Cambridge, UK: Polity press.Google Scholar
  39. Gillies, D. (2013). Educational leadership and Michel Foucault. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Grant, J. (2010). Foucault and the logic of dialectics. Contemporary Political Theory, 9(2), 220–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hacking, I. (1986). Self-improvement. In D. C. Hoy (Ed.), Foucault: A critical reader (pp. 235–240). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  42. Hunter, I. (1994). Rethinking the school: Subjectivity, bureaucracy, criticism. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  43. Jackson, A. Y., & Mazzei, L. A. (2011). Thinking with theory in qualitative research: Viewing data across multiple perspectives. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lazzarato, M. (2009). Neoliberalism in action inequality, insecurity and the reconstitution of the social. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(6), 109–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Leask, I. (2012). Beyond subjection: Notes on the later Foucault and education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(s1), 57–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lemke, T. (2002). Foucault, governmentality, and critique. Rethinking Marxism, 14(3), 49–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lemke, T. (2012). Foucault, governmentality, and critique. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Lorenzini, D. (2016). From counter-conduct to critical attitude: Michel Foucault and the art of not being governed quite so much. Foucault Studies, (21), 7–21.Google Scholar
  49. McNay, L. (2009). Self as enterprise dilemmas of control and resistance in Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(6), 55–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Morley, L., & Rassool, N. (2002). School effectiveness: Fracturing the discourse. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nicoll, K., & Fejes, A. (2008). Mobilizing Foucault in studies of lifelong learning. In A. Fejes & K. Nicoll (Eds.), Foucault and lifelong learning: Governing the subject (pp. 1–18). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Niesche, R. (2011). Foucault and educational leadership: Disciplining the principal. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Oksala, J. (2013). From biopower to governmentality. In C. Falzon, T. O’Leary, & J. Sawicki (Eds.), A companion to Foucault (pp. 320–336). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Olssen, M. (2006). Understanding the mechanisms of neoliberal control: Lifelong learning, flexibility and knowledge capitalism. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 25(3), 213–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Orr, J. (2010). The ‘soul of the citizen,’ the invention of the social: Governing mentalities. In J. R. Hall, L. Grindstaff, & M.-C. Lo (Eds.), Handbook of cultural sociology (pp. 547–556). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Peters, M., & Besley, T. (2007). Why Foucault?: New directions in educational research. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  57. Pickett, B. L. (1996). Foucault and the politics of resistance. Polity, 28(4), 445–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pignatelli, F. (2002). Mapping the terrain of a Foucauldian ethics: A response to the surveillance of schooling. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 21(2), 157–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Protevi, J. (2009). What does Foucault think is new about neo-liberalism? Pli: Warwick Journal of Philosophy, 21, 1–25.Google Scholar
  60. Putnam, L. L., Fairhurst, G. T., & Banghart, S. (2016). Contradictions, dialectics, and paradoxes in organizations: A constitutive approach. Academy of Management Annals, 10(1), 65–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rabinow, P., & Rose, N. S. (2003). The essential Foucault: Selections from the essential works of Foucault, 1954–1984. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  62. Rose, N. S. (1999). Powers of freedom: Reframing political thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rose, N. S., O’Malley, P., & Valverde, M. (2006). Governmentality. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 2(1), 83–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rouse, J. (2006). Power/knowledge. In G. Gutting (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Foucault (2nd ed., pp. 95–122). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Schwan, S., & Shapiro, S. (2011). How to read Foucault’s ‘discipline and punish’. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  66. Simons, J. (2013). Power, resistance, and freedom. In C. Falzon, T. O’Leary, & J. Sawicki (Eds.), A companion to Foucault (pp. 301–318). Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  67. Skinner, D. (2012). Foucault, subjectivity and ethics: Towards a self-forming subject. Organization, 20(6), 904–923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Springer, S. (2012). Neoliberalism as discourse: Between Foucauldian political economy and Marxian poststructuralism. Critical Discourse Studies, 9(2), 133–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Stevens, P. (1996). The political ways of paradox: Renaissance literature and modern criticism. English Literary Renaissance, 26(2), 203–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Stickney, J. A. (2012). Judging teachers: Foucault, governance and agency during education reforms. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(6), 649–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Veyne, P., Porter, C., & Davidson, A. I. (1993). The final Foucault and his ethics. Critical Inquiry, 20(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wright, A. (2012). Fantasies of empowerment: Mapping neoliberal discourse in the coalition government’s schools policy. Journal of Education Policy, 27(3), 279–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Dolan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations