Prof. Mitchell Dean gave a public lecture on 27th November 2023 at King’s College London on the topic “Governing societies after governmentality order, glory and sovereignty”.

About the talk 

This lecture recounts my (Prof. Mitchell Dean) long-term engagement with the framework of governmentality. In it, I found that the classical governmentality framework of Foucault and his immediate followers left open key questions of its characterization of liberalism, its relevance to authoritarian practices and rule, the persistence of sovereignty, and the genealogy of contemporary government. Needless to say, such questions are fundamental to political challenges today thematised around populism and the hollowing out of liberal-democracy. Eschewing the impulse to add another diagnosis of this present, I argue that we should return to the basic task of developing an analytical framework to understand the exercise of power in our societies that emphasizes the fundamental relation between economic-managerial forms of governance and juridical-institutional forms of sovereignty. What emerges are questions not only of conduct but also of order, glory, and the practical capacities of states, themes emphasized by often disavowed thinkers such as Hayek, Agamben, and Schmitt, and the frequently misapprehended disciplines of political-economic theology.

About the speaker

Mitchell Dean (PhD, UNSW, 1988) is a political and historical sociologist with an international research reputation and management and teaching experience across the humanities and social sciences in university and business school contexts. He has held Professorships in Sociology at Macquarie University (Sydney) and the University of Newcastle, and has been Professor of Public Governance since December 2012, and Head of the Department since March 2019, at the Copenhagen Business School. He was Dean of the Division of Society, Culture, Media and Philosophy at Macquarie University in Sydney for seven years (2002-2009).

Dean has many publications in leading international journals in Europe, Britain, Australia and North America, in sociology and other disciplines. He has authored eight books and edited two others, including Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society (Sage 2010, 2nd edition), cited in the first edition of Foucault’s lectures on the topic and the Oxford English Dictionary. He also co-edited with Barry Hindess the first national collection of studies of governmentality (Governing Australia. Studies in Contemporary Rationalities of Government, Cambridge University Press, 1998). Published in five languages, his books have been widely reviewed and highly cited. Among his recent books, The Last Man Takes LSD: Foucault and the End of Revolution (Verso 2021, with Daniel Zamora) has been reviewed and discussed at length in The Los Angeles Times, The New Statesman, The Spectator, Libération, Il Manifesto, Information (DK) and elsewhere.

Dean has written for broader publics including in The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Australian Financial Review, and the Telos Press and Stanford University Press blogs. He has broad experience with successful research supervision and examination. He has taught and led the development of sociological education at three universities and all levels. He has given keynotes, invited lectures and seminars at many leading universities in Europe, North America, the United Kingdom, Asia and Australia. He has over 23,000 citations on Google Scholar. He is an active member of the editorial advisory boards of both Economy and Society and Theory, Culture and Society.