The structure/agency debate has been among the central issues in discussions of social theory. It has been widely assumed that the key theoretical task is to find a link between social structures and acting human beings to reconcile the macro with the micro, society and the individual. This book considers a general movement in which the collective concepts established by the early pioneers of modern sociological thought have been reconsidered in the light of both theoretical critique and empirical results. It argues that the contemporary sociological preoccupation with structure and agency has had disastrous effects on the understanding of Karl Marx's ideas. Through a critical evaluation of 'structuration theory' as a purported synthesis of 'structure and agency', the book also argues that the whole idea of a structure-and-agency 'problem' mythologises the fracture lines that do run through relatively recent sociological thought. Michel Foucault's ideas were used to both shore up existing positions in sociology and to instantiate (or solve) the 'new' structure-agency 'problem'. Foucault allowed sociologists to conduct 'business as usual' between the demise of structuralism and the contemporary consensus around Pierre Bourdieu-Anthony Giddens-Jurgen Habermas and the structure-agency dualisms. Habermas is one of the most prominent figures in contemporary social theory.
Introduction: understanding bioprecarity
This chapter elaborates the notion of bioprecarity as it is utilized in this volume by drawing on three theoretical concepts that have not been ‘thought together’ before. They are intimate labour as discussed in Boris and Parreñas’ work ( 2010 ); bios , as understood in MichelFoucault’s writings ( 2008 ); and precarity as originally developed in France in the 1970s, then taken up by Judith Butler ( 2004 ) in the context of war, terrorism, survival and grievable lives and popularized in relation to new forms of
disciplining and controlling children and women were simply more extreme, but there
is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Irish body demands more attention.
1 The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report,
vol. III (Dublin: The Stationery Office, 2009), p. 56.
2 MichelFoucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books,
1979), pp. 3–6.
3 Jennifer O’Connell, ‘You Wouldn’t Hit a Partner for Their Own Good, So Why Would You
Hit a Child’, Irish Times, 6 February 2013.
4 MichelFoucault, The
and ‘welfare’) – and today’s theoretical doldrums. Many sociologists used MichelFoucault’s ideas to supplement, and then replace, the left-structuralist consensus of the 1970s and 1980s, and, we will suggest, his reception and adaptation over this period allowed for the transition from one perspective to another to be achieved in an apparently less haphazard manner. Foucault, for thinkers like Stuart Hall, complemented and later superseded the works of Althusser and Gramsci, while for others (e.g. Silverman, 1985), his perspective bridged the structure
This chapter examines the dialogue on the subject of drugs, madness and philosophy that can be traced in several texts by Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. It addresses the question of the relationship between drugs, literary art, artistic life and the processes of theorising itself in the context of their own intellectual movements away from the humanistic modernity. The chapter considers how drugs and drug effects may be considered to figure in their respective attempts to overcome anthropocentric modernity, and also shows that the drug effects which circulate in culture at large are related to specific materialisations of individual existence.
This book is about the lived experience of occupationally sick workers in China. When China initiated its economic reform in 1978, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) started attracting immense industrial capital from Hong Kong. The aftermath of the Zhili fire marked the invention and consolidation of different strategies on the part of Hong Kong-based NGOs to protect the rights of Chinese workers. The spinning-off of Labor Action China (LAC) from Christian Industrial Committee (CIC) in 2005 was prompted by the surge of pneumoconiosis cases among gemstone/jewelry workers in Guangdong province. In understanding the post-illness experiences of sick Chinese workers, the book subscribes to Michel Foucault's view that they face a hybrid of powers involving sovereignty, discipline, and governmentality. It argues that the social estrangement of Chinese sick workers can be understood as an instantiation of Agamben's notion of homo sacer - the ultimate biopolitical subject whose life is located outside "normal" political, economic, and cultural practices. The narratives of cadmium-poisoned workers suggest that they usually find themselves in situations where their rights are being exploited. Sick workers tend to strategize their pursuit of compensation toward the mode of "rightful resistance". The book sheds light on one response pattern observed at the actor-power interface, the compromising citizenry. It discusses the three major types of preferred ways of seeking compensation solicited from different groups of occupationally sick workers, namely, the craving for sick role status, rightful resistance, and compromising citizenry, can be considered as struggles for obtaining "legality".
This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this book, which is about the place of drugs in culture or in cultural theorising. The book comprises a series of experimental readings of a number of texts by writers whose own diverse inquiries into the condition of modernity have found prominence in the annals of twentieth-century philosophy and cultural theory. These include the works of Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. The book analyses texts and contexts that collectively illustrate how theoretical impulses, trajectories and decisions are shaped and directed by an encounter with drugs, illustrating the sense in which high modernity is a form of culture on drugs.
Conversation, friendship and democratic possibilities
This chapter foregrounds my approach to ethics as a ‘new’ ethnographic object. I show how an attentive ethnographic sensibility can uncover forms of interpersonal relationality, which diverge from a politics of interminable opposition. Learning from Veena Das’ work, I turn away from the most visible campus ‘events’ and toward a seemingly mundane student meeting in order to address the following question: how, in a politically polarised context, do friendships and alternative sociabilities become possible? I offer an ethnographic account of a small scale gathering of students involved in an ‘Israel-Palestine Forum’ at Redbrick University. Tracing the interpersonal and institutional conditions of this meeting, I show how its participants cultivated practices of speaking and listening, which enabled us to engage with each other as uncertain, ambivalent and fragmented subjects. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s ethics of ‘parrhesia’ and Stanley Cavell’s insights into the pedagogic dimensions of democratic relationships, I explore how risk-taking, trust and singular friendships enabled the tragic histories of Palestine-Israel to be spoken and reflected upon. The chapter concludes with some comparative insights in relation to my three fieldsites, highlighting how the differential impacts of socio-economic changes to higher education can limit these democratic possibilities within campuses.
the ways in which immigrants ‘adapt informally’ (Gray 2006: 120).
Instead, integration policies have been treated with great seriousness, as if there is
an axiomatic relationship between policy rhetoric and practice. Moreover, integration policies have avoided sustained critical analysis. Her essay on the Irish
situation draws from the insights of MichelFoucault (1991) to argue that
migrants are today problematised, constructed as populations and subjected to a
mode of neo-liberal governmentality. The aim, Gray argues, is to manage
migration and render immigrants
embodied selves, is created through regulations and norms that encourage or require individuals to seek or provide bodily interventions of different kinds, in particular in relation to intimacy and intimate labour, such as in the making of families and kin, in various forms of care work and in the making of identities.
In thinking through the ways in which embodied selves are precarized in intimate labour we draw on the work of MichelFoucault, Roberto Esposito, Nikolas Rose, Judith Butler and a number of other theoreticians who have explored the relation between body