Culture, government, and spatiality: re-assessing the 'Foucault effect' in cultural-policy studies

Barnett, Clive (1999). Culture, government, and spatiality: re-assessing the 'Foucault effect' in cultural-policy studies. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2(3) pp. 369–397.



This article critically discusses the reconceptualization of culture and governmentality in recent Australian ‘cultural–policy studies’. It argues that the further development of this conceptualization requires a more careful consideration of the complex relations between culture, power and the different spatialities of social practices. The assumptions of this literature regarding social-democratic public institutions and the nation-state are critically addressed in the light of contemporary processes of globalization. It is argued that the use made of Foucault in this paradigm privileges a model of disciplinary power which is dependent on a particular spatialization of social subjects and technologies of the self. As a result, an uncritical application of this model to all cultural practices supports a far too coherent image of practices of ‘government’ in producing sought-after subject-effects. It is suggested that the different articulations of spatio-temporal presence and absence in cultural technologies require a less totalizing understanding of the forms of power exercised through governmental practices.

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