Governing Time: Temporality and the Making of Exploitable Subjects in Marx and Foucault

Lanci, Yari. 2022. Governing Time: Temporality and the Making of Exploitable Subjects in Marx and Foucault. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

No full text available
[img] Text (Governing Time: Temporality and the Making of Exploitable Subjects in Marx and Foucault)
SOC_Thesis_LanciY_2022.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 31 January 2025.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB)

Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the conceptual and historical analyses of the interplay between time and the
exploitation of labour power in the works of Karl Marx and Michel Foucault. My hypothesis is that
their works strikingly illuminate the fundamental importance of the category of time in the
formation of disciplined, productive, and thus, exploitable subjects. This study aims at shedding
light on the ways in which, for Marx and Foucault, time functions as the fundamental variable
element that ensures the ‘fabrication’ of exploitable subjects under capitalist
conditions of production. In addressing this issue, the processes of capture, synthesis, and
government of time are foregrounded as the essential mechanisms for the maintenance and
reproduction of capital’s accumulation regimes based on the exploitation of human lives.

This thesis thus reconstructs the reflections on time and the exploitation of
productive subjects developed in Foucault’s 1970s writings and in Marx’s mature critique of the
categories of political economy. Through the conjoined reading of their works, I trace
how capitalist time operates as the mediator of the actualisation of human potentialities in an
exploitable form. The governing of time, understood with Marx and Foucault as the
exercise of capitalist power on subjects’ modes of existence – on both their actual and
possible actions – ensures the making of potentially exploitable individuals. Capital’s
struggle to achieve its continuous and expanded reconstitution gravitates around the temporal
axes of this exercise of power and its uneven frictions with the development of the productive

The conceptual reconstruction undertaken in this study allows us to see how time, for both authors,
plays a fundamental part in the fabrication of individuals and groups that are exploitable by
capitalism (before, within, and beyond their participation in production proper). The interplay of
Foucault and Marx’s historical and conceptual analyses is here employed to illuminate a specific
aspect of the capitalist mode of production: the crucial role of the government of
time in the creation and maintenance of the conditions for the (re-)production of exploitation
itself. In other words, their concepts and frameworks are deployed to help us reassess
in temporal terms the maintenance and reproduction of conditions of production that posit
valorisation (via exploitation) as their sole aim. Ultimately, the staging of a dialogue
between Marx and Foucault on these problems aims at establishing a set of conceptual
starting points for further analyses on contemporary forms of the government of time within
current regimes of valorisatisation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


time, labour power, Marx, Foucault, exploitation, potentiality, dissipation, temporality

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 January 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Feb 2022 16:42

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)