Power, Freedom and Obedience in Foucault and La Boétie: voluntary servitude as the problem of government

Newman, Saul. 2021. Power, Freedom and Obedience in Foucault and La Boétie: voluntary servitude as the problem of government. Theory, Culture & Society, ISSN 0263-2764 [Article] (In Press)

[img] Text
Newman, S. (2021) Power, Freedom and Obedience_AAM.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (205kB)
[img]
Preview
Text
02632764211024333.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (302kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

I investigate the contemporary problem of obedience through an exploration of Michel Foucault and Étienne de La Boétie, showing how the former drew on the latter’s concept of voluntary servitude as a way of thinking through the paradoxical relationship between power, freedom and subjectivity. My argument is that Foucault’s theory of government as the ‘conduct of conduct’ may be understood as a reflection on the question of voluntary servitude. My aim here is twofold. First, it is to show that obedience is an ethical and political problem just as relevant today as it was in La Boétie’s time. Secondly, it is to suggest that voluntary servitude should be interpreted in an emancipatory way, as a problematic that reveals the ontological primacy of freedom and the fragility and instability of power. ‘Voluntary inservitude’ is something that can be expressed in acts of civil disobedience, and alternate modes of ethical conduct and association.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1177/02632764211024333

Keywords:

Foucault, freedom, government, La Boétie, voluntary servitude

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Research Unit in Contemporary Political Theory (RUCPT)

Dates:

DateEvent
20 May 2021Accepted
22 July 2021Published Online

Item ID:

30079

Date Deposited:

21 May 2021 11:36

Last Modified:

10 Aug 2021 08:38

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/30079

View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)