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“When it comes to ‘power’, it can often feel as if everyone is talking about it, yet no one appears to have given it any thought. Well, not quite. In this original and timely book, Mitchell Dean provides a characteristically thoughtful and incisive analysis that aims to renovate the concept of power through an understanding of its signature and how it works. Through a thorough and intelligent engagement with the work of Foucault, Schmitt, and Agamben, their lacuna and failings, Dean pieces together a clear and precise account of sovereignty, governmentality, and bio-politics, which has much to commend it.”

- Paul Du Gay, Copenhagen Business School

“Dean's erudite and relentlessly critical reading of Foucault, Schmitt and Agamben extracts from these authors new insights about the signature of power … Immensely valuable and a major contribution to social and political thought.”

- William Walters, Carleton University

Mitchell Dean revitalized the study of ‘governmentality’ with his bestselling book of the same title. His new book on power is a landmark work.

It combines an extraordinary breadth of perspective with pinpoint accuracy about what power means for us today. For students it provides sharp readings of the main approaches in the field. On this level, it operates as a foundational work in the study of power. It builds on this to reframe the concept of power, offering original and exceptionally fruitful reading. It throws new light onto the importance of biopolitics, sovereignty and governmentality.

Mitchell Dean has established himself as a master of governmentality. This new book will do the same for how we conceptualize and use power.

Mitchell Dean is Professor of Public Governance at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark and Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Secular Orders
Secular orders

6.1 There are times when Foucault's characterization of the juridical-political theory of sovereignty reads as if he is actually citing Schmitt, but with a minus sign attached. To take an example: ‘The theory of sovereignty is bound with a form of power that is exercised over the land and the produce of the land … [it] concerns power's displacement and appropriation not of time and labour, but of goods and wealth’ (2003: 36). Elsewhere, he argues sovereign power was ‘a right to appropriate … a right of seizure: of things, time, bodies and ultimately life itself; it culminated in the privilege to seize hold of life in order to suppress it’ (1979: 136). This conception of power is under the shadow of ...

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