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Security, Territory, Population (Michel Foucault: Lectures at the Collège de France) Paperback – 28 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2009 edition (28 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403986533
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403986535
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'The English translation of Security, Territory and Population is a major event not only for Anglophone readers of Foucault's work, but for all those concerned with understanding our present social and political condition. These lectures show that the trenchant analysis of biopower, 'power over life', which Foucault had begun in the first volume of the History of Sexuality and which he pursues here in terms of technologies of security, led him to a decisively deeper and more radical formulation of his guiding problematic what he called - the government of the self and others - the issue that would serve as the basis for all his subsequent work. Security, Territory and Population might thus properly be called the 'missing link' that reveals the underlying unity of Foucault's later thought... Burchell's translation is meticulous, supple, and attentive to the nuances of Foucault's fluid lecture style. We all stand in his debt'
- Kevin Thompson, Book Review Editor, Continental Philosophy Review, Department of Philosophy, DePaul University, USA
'Foucault, and this book, has enriched and extended our understandings of the field which Foucault made his own: the history of systems of thought.' - Roger Deacon, The European Legacy

Book Description

First publication of Foucault's lectures, spanning from 1977-1978, focusing on the institutionalization of power in government

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Format: Hardcover
One certainly got that experience from reading the book. The lectures were reconstructed using Foucault's personal lecture notes and actual taped audio recordings of his lectures. You get a stream-of-consciousness style which works rather well, compared with Foucault's personally-written work.

The subject matter is rather more interesting than first appears. What Foucault was primarily talking about was the history of governmentality (governementalité), and the move from the medieval dynastical state to the early modern administrative state, elaborating on the relationships of power and the bodies of knowledge that were debated and formulated to allow this change.

Foucault's notions of biopower and biopolitique also loom large and the book allows you to get to grips with those concepts. Things may not be clear in the first couple of chapters (each lecture is a chapter), but as you progress towards the end of the book you will feel much better for it.

I recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Security, Territory, Population' is perhaps the most famous of Foucault's lecture series from his time as Chair of History of Systems of Thought at the College de France. Following on from 'Society Must be Defended', the first three lectures of STP elaborate on the concept of biopower, first introduced in 'History of Sexuality: Vol 1'. Lecture four marks a shift, however, with the exploration of the Christian pastorate and its role in governing the conduct of men, leading Foucault to introduce arguably his most widely utilised concept; governmentality. Foucault demonstrates mastery of a breath-taking range of source material for these lectures, tracing multiple strands of the rise of modern rationality of government, including the problem of population and the development and transformation of the Christian pastorate.

The wonderful thing about these transcribed lectures is the amount of legwork that has gone into supplying extra information through footnotes and endnotes, clarifying seemingly off-the-cuff remarks Foucault makes, which often relate to works of other great thinkers. This is perhaps a bit too advanced for a total beginner when it comes to Foucault, and I would therefore recommend those unfamiliar with his work to begin with Discipline and Punish or History of Sexuality Vol 1; they are by far his most readable works.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indespensible 21 Dec. 2007
By William R. French - Published on
Format: Hardcover
These are the complete course lectures in which Foucault developed his theory and history of "governmentality" as a discursive threshold of modern society.

This volume is critical to any student of Foucault or government in general. To the Foucault student, it refines his concept of power and signifies a break from power as "domination" to power as the "conduct of conduct." This is the first printing of the full lecture series, of which only two portions were available previously, and shows the full empirical range of his study of governmentality.

To the more general student of government, this work is equally valuable. It clearly situates government as a practice contingent upon durable forms of thought and action in western history. It is primarily concerned with the shift from governing territory to governing populations with the emergence of liberalism and the collapse of feudalism. More advanced students may find this work especially useful because of its contraposition to marxism, critical theory, and mainstream liberal critiques of government. In this respect, it offers a genuinely alternative voice to the problems and prospects of modern politics - a very rare achievement.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definately worth the effort 25 Aug. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I wish I had got around to reading this much sooner. "Security, Territory, Population" is one in a series of lectures Foucault delivered at the College de France. I started here to find out more about Foucault's development of the concept of government and was so impressed that I have come back to Amazon to order the other books in the series. This series is as clear and accessible as anything I have ever read by Foucault. The lecture format is much more conversational in style than his books but still as wide ranging and impressive in examples. The lectures are intriguing as you see Foucault's ideas literally develop and fill out week to week.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indisputably Groundbreaking 8 Mar. 2009
By C. Chitty - Published on
Format: Paperback
These lectures -- more so than many in this excellent series -- contain novel ideas and formulations ripe for further research. From a new conceptualization of the state, to a unique account of the Protestant Reformation, and lineages of absolutist monarchy, Machiavelli criticism, and the birth of the Police state, if his approach seems fragmentary and incomplete, it is because we are reading the raw thought materials of a masterful scholar at the top of his game.
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can I quote from a lecture? 31 Dec. 2007
By Harry Freemantle - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This text is as close as you will get to hearing Foucault's voice (unless of course you listen to bootlegs of his lectures or the cassette tapes at the Centre Michel Foucault in Paris). The pauses and silences are evident through the text and the sentences - sometimes convoluted and incomplete - give a real sense of Foucault thinking, especially as he makes the shift towards governmentality. Along with the extensive notes these lectures provide a useful springboard to Foucault's fully edited works and to the main sources he draws on to mount his various arguments. Unlike other published works however they are uneven. Obviously some days Foucault was in worse form than others - like in the lecture presented on February 8 1978 when he was suffering from the flue - and like a lecture, listener/reader concentration lags after 20 or so minutes as the intensity drops. Foucault's thoughts are not always clear and coherent and he sometimes dives off at a tangent, inducing a sense of vertigo. This is useful when the focus is on the process of learning and researching, but it can be distracting and tiring. Foucault was at pains to destroy incomplete works and notes and it would be interesting to hear what he would say about this publication and the reasons behind it, given his dislike of the herd learning on offer in this forum and the lack of space and time for in-depth discussion and debate.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Important For Understanding Foucault's Political Thought 18 Jan. 2015
By Mikhail B - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the publication of these lectures, we are given a special privilege to fully understand a fundamental transition in Foucault's political thought, where he integrated questions of discipline and biopower into a larger analytic about the political rationality of a state formation. He coined this tool of study "governmentality" and used it to trace a genealogy of Western liberal politics, going back to earlier forms of Christian pastoral power, through the rise of nation-states up through the Enlightenment. Along the way, he discusses more day to day political functions that work into this framework, such as police power, the management of goods and resources in a society and the distribution of wealth. Some of these analyses are uneven and certain pathways are left unexplored, as should be expected as this is a lecture course of research material in their rough stages, not a published book. Nevertheless, they provide a set of powerful suggestions for further research and analysis. Governmentality studies has been a thriving field for the past 25 years yet much of it seems to have been based on a single lecture from this course that was the only thing available for a long time. This lecture course provides a full picture of what Foucault had in mind by governmentality and has been useful I'm sure in revising and correcting a lot of preconceptions about his formulation of this concept in the existing literature. No one can fully grasp Foucault's political thought without reading this. Be sure to read this course along with its successor - The Birth of Biopolitics, where he continues his study of governmentality in relation to the economy, providing a fascinating study of neoliberal trends that foreshadow much of what would come during the 80's and after.
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