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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.

Reign and Government
Reign and government

7.1 The uproar which followed the translation of Giorgio Agamben's ‘political writings’ into English paradoxically indicates their anticipatory potential towards our present (Agamben, 2005b). It is understandable that his application of the state of exception to the contemporary United States would provoke ‘predictably loud’ responses (Raulff, 2005: 610). What was not so predictable was the response in certain quarters, particularly those claiming the heritage of Michel Foucault, to his engagement with the concept of biopolitics. Agamben was accused of illegitimately grounding biopolitics in the dark truth of thanatopolitics, a politics of death, and of being fixated on juridical questions under the spell of sovereign power (Rabinow and Rose, 2006: 201–2; Lemke, 2010: 59). Above all, his concept of biopolitics was ...

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