Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction (Biopolitics: by Thomas Lemke, Monica Casper, Lisa Moore

By Thomas Lemke, Monica Casper, Lisa Moore

The organic good points of humans are actually measured, saw, and understood in methods by no means prior to notion attainable, defining norms, setting up criteria, and selecting regular values of human existence. whereas the suggestion of “biopolitics” has been associated with every thing from rational decision-making and the democratic association of social lifestyles to eugenics and racism, Thomas Lemke deals the first actual systematic assessment of the historical past of the idea of biopolitics, exploring its relevance in modern theoretical debates and offering a far wanted primer at the subject. Lemke explains that existence has develop into an self reliant, target and measurable issue in addition to a collective fact that may be separated from concrete dwelling beings and the singularity of person adventure. He exhibits how our figuring out of the procedures of lifestyles, the organizing of populations and the necessity to “govern” participants and collectives bring about practices of correction, exclusion, normalization, and disciplining. during this lucidly written booklet, Lemke outlines the stakes and the debates surrounding biopolitics, offering a scientific review of the background of the idea and making transparent its relevance for sociological and modern theoretical debates.

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Additional resources for Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction (Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the 21st Century)

Sample text

By contrast, concepts that approach reality from the perspective of actors or participants are considered scientifically deficient (Saretzki 1990, 86–87). Common to all representatives of “biopolitics” is thus a critique of the theoretical and methodological orientation of the social sciences, which, in their view, is insufficient. They argue that the social sciences are guided by the assumption that human beings are, in principle, free beings, a view that gives too much significance to processes of learning and socialization and thereby fails to see that human (political) behavior is in large part biologically conditioned.

94–147). As a result of this problematization, the ecological version of biopolitics was weakened until ultimately it was integrated into the technocentric variant. If the former assigned itself a task that tended toward the conservative and defensive, pursuing the goal of preserving natural foundations of life, the latter is more dynamic and productivist, concerned with the exploitation of these foundations. The ecological interpretation of biopolitics was in this respect locked into a naturalistic logic, as it strove to thematize the interaction between natural and societal processes and so to determine the correct political answers to environmental questions.

Within the purview of these policies stand, above all, reproductive medicine and human genetics. Increasingly, however, one finds brain research, as well as the scientifically and technically rather uninteresting field of cosmetic surgery. Biopolitics responds to the transgression of boundaries.  . The results of such transgressions are moral controversies and debates about regulation that come down to the old question: Just because we can, should we? (2005, 8) In recent years, this interpretation has become dominant in journalism and in political declarations and speeches.

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