Health Policy

Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction by Thomas Lemke

By Thomas Lemke

The organic gains of humans are actually measured, saw, and understood in methods by no means sooner than idea attainable, defining norms, developing criteria, and selecting normal values of human lifestyles. whereas the idea 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 bargains the first actual systematic assessment of the historical past of the thought of biopolitics, exploring its relevance in modern theoretical debates and offering a far wanted primer at the topic.

Lemke explains that existence has turn into an self reliant, aim and measurable issue in addition to a collective truth that may be separated from concrete dwelling beings and the singularity of person event. He exhibits how our knowing of the procedures of existence, the organizing of populations and the necessity to “govern” contributors and collectives result in practices of correction, exclusion, normalization, and disciplining. during this lucidly written ebook, Lemke outlines the stakes and the debates surrounding biopolitics, supplying a scientific review of the historical past of the thought and making transparent its relevance for sociological and modern theoretical debates.

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Extra resources for Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction

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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.

Works interested in physiological factors and their possible contribution to an understanding of political action fall into the third category. A fourth group focuses on practical political problems (“biopolicies”), which arise from interventions in human nature and changes to the environment (Somit and Peterson 1987, 108; Kamps and Watts 1998, 17–18; Blank and Hines 2001; Meyer-Emerick 2007). Despite the diversity of the theoretical sources and thematic interests involved here, one can nonetheless speak of a common research perspective since most of these works agree on three fundamental aspects.

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