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(2008) The birth of biopolitics, Dordrecht, Springer.

TODAY I WOULD LIKE to start from the things I have been explaining over the last weeks and go back a bit toward what I took as my starting point at the beginning of the year.Last week I tried to show how American neo-liberals apply, or at any rate try to apply economic analysis to a series of objects, to domains of behavior or conduct which were not market forms of behavior or conduct: they attempt to apply economic analysis to marriage, the education of children, and criminality, for example. This of course poses a problem of both theory and method, the problem of the legitimacy of applying such an economic model, the practical problem of the heuristic value of this model, etcetera. These problems all revolve around a theme or a notion: homo œconomicus, economic man. To what extent is it legitimate, and to what extent is it fruitful, to apply the grid, the schema, and the model of homo œconomicus to not only every economic actor, but to every social actor in general inasmuch as he or she gets married, for example, or commits a crime, or raises children, gives affection and spends time with the kids? So there is a problem of the validity of the applicability of this grid of homo œconomicus. Actually, this problem of the application of homo œconomicus has become one of the classics of neo-liberal discussion in the United States.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230594180_11

Full citation:

Senellart, M. , Ewald, F. , Fontana, A. (2008)., 28 march 1979, in M. Senellart, F. Ewald & A. Fontana (eds.), The birth of biopolitics, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 267-289.

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