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'Becker on Ewald on Foucault on Becker': American Neoliberalism and Michel Foucault's 1979 'Birth of Biopolitics' Lectures

20 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2012 Last revised: 1 Oct 2013

Gary S. Becker

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Francois Ewald

Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

Bernard E. Harcourt

Columbia University; Columbia University

Date Written: September 5, 2012

Abstract

In a series of lectures delivered in 1979 at the Collège de France under the title The Birth of Biopolitics, Michel Foucault conducted a close reading of Gary Becker’s writings on human capital and on crime and punishment, within the context of an elaboration and critique of American neoliberalism. Foucault was assisted at the time, at the Collège de France, by François Ewald. Since then, there has been ongoing debate over Foucault’s views about neoliberalism. In this historic meeting at the University of Chicago between Professors Becker and Ewald, Professor Ewald presents a framework to understand Foucault’s writings on Becker; Professor Bernard Harcourt offers a different reading of Foucault’s views on neoliberalism; and Professor Becker responds to Foucault’s lectures and to possible critical readings of his work on human capital. Apology or critique — that is the motivating question in this rich encounter between contemporary French philosophy and American economic theory.

Keywords: Gary Becker, Michel Foucault, François Ewald, neoliberalism, human capital, crime and punishment, biopolitics

Suggested Citation

Becker, Gary S. and Ewald, Francois and Harcourt, Bernard E., 'Becker on Ewald on Foucault on Becker': American Neoliberalism and Michel Foucault's 1979 'Birth of Biopolitics' Lectures (September 5, 2012). University of Chicago Institute for Law & Economics Olin Research Paper No. 614; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 401. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2142163 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2142163

Gary S. Becker

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Francois Ewald

Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers ( email )

292 rue Saint Martin
Paris, 75003
France

Bernard E. Harcourt (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

Jerome Green Hall, Room 515
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.columbia.edu/fac/Bernard_Harcourt

Columbia University ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://polisci.columbia.edu/people/profile/1685

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