The Governance of Precariousness

Lecture by Isabell Lorey
June 30th, 2011

In the broadest sense, precariousness can be described as insecurity, vulnerability and endangerment. The lecture unfolds various dimensions in which precariousness is both a condition and effect of governance and security. In occidental modernity, we have learned how to minimise precariousness, and how to construct and exclude those who are less worth being protected as threatening persons.

However, in post-Fordist societies, one can now discern that precariousness less and less represents the other side of security. Precarisation, understood as insecure living and working conditions, is on the rise and in a process of normalisation. Fears of existential insecurity can no longer be absorbed by work and social safeguards. But what does it mean for us to be governed precisely by social and economic insecurities?

Isabell Lorey, PD Dr. phil., political scientist, currently visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin, teaches social sciences and cultural studies at the University of Vienna.

Recent publications on the topic:

  • “Gouvernementale Prekarisierung”, in: Isabell Lorey/Roberto Nigro/Gerald Raunig (eds.): Inventionen I, Zürich: diaphanes 2011, pp. 72-86.

  • “Prekarisierung als Verunsicherung und Entsetzen. Immunisierung, Normalisierung und neue Furcht erregende Subjektivierungsweisen”, in: Alexandra Manske/Katharina Pühl (eds.): Prekarisierung zwischen Anomie und Normalisierung. Geschlechtertheoretische Bestimmungen, Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot 2010, pp. 48-81.

  • Figuren des Immunen. Elemente einer politischen Theorie, Zürich: diaphanes 2011.