Biopolitics of Childhood

The study of biopolitics can be traced largely to the collected works of French social theorist Michel Foucault and followers of his governmentality approach. Foucault argued that biopolitics was one pole of a form of power he called biopower. The other pole is anatomo-politics, which exploits human energies through efficient conditioning and disciplining of physical bodies, positioning them within institutional apparatuses (i.e., the bodily disciplines of factories and schools). In contrast, biopolitics aims to optimize the vitality of the population through knowledge, technology, and interventions aimed at promoting life expectancies, health, reproduction, and mental hygiene beginning in 18th-century Europe. Children were an important target of early biopolitics as their lives were represented and calculated in relation to economic productivity, thereby encouraging the institutionalization of foundling ...

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