|The argumenative core of this Working Paper is a juxtaposition of the governmentality perspective as it is developed by Michel Foucault and the Governmentality Studies on the one hand and the more established frameworks of state theory on the other. The paper begins with an examination of the various shifts (‘from discipline to government’) in Foucault’s work that enable him to make the state an explicit focus of his work for the first time at the end of the 1970. The second step investigates the emergence of the so-called Governmentality Studies in order to find out why it is only very recently that the genuinely state-theoretical content of the governmentality lectures has become the subject of debate. The following section offers an outline of the basic premises and the conceptual vocabulary of the governmentality perspective on the state. Based on these preparatory steps, the core section of the paper then compares the various aspects of the governmentality perspective to alternative approaches from Neo-Institutionalism to Neo-Marxism, in order to identify what might be unique and original about the governmentality perspective. The juxtaposition has no polemical purposes; rather the aim of this comparative examination is to initiate a debate between Foucaultians and proponents of other more established state-theoretical frameworks about strengths and limits of the respective approaches. Both sides have foregone this opportunity so far - to the detriment of both. The study concludes that its many merits notwithstanding, the governmentality perspective still is in need of further elaboration in order to redeem its claim to an original and innovative view on the state-theoretical problematic.
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