Foucault’s concept of ‘pastoral power’ describes an important technique for constituting obedient subjects. Derived from his analysis of the Christian pastorate, he saw pastoral power as a prelude to contemporary technologies of governing ‘beyond the State’, where ‘experts’ shepherd self-governing subjects. However, the specific practices of modern pastorate have been little developed. This article examines the relational practices of pastoral power associated with the government of medicine use within the English healthcare system. The study shows how multiple pastors align their complementary and variegated practices to conduct behaviours, but also how pastors compete for legitimacy, and face resistance through the mobilisation of alternative discourses and the strategic exploitation of pastoral competition. The article offers a dynamic view of the modern pastorate within the contemporary assemblages of power.
- pastoral power
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science