Welfare State and Biopower
When we talk about a state, we are talking about politics and the conceptualization of links between citizens and politics. The great issue of the welfare state is the fact that there is a contractualization between citizens and politicians, politics being fundamental to contractualization, the individual cannot contract alone, he does it with authority by recognizing its legitimacy. Belonging to the modern state means agreeing to be bound to other individuals by a contract that is committed, respected and developed by the modern state and politics.
- 1 How was the modern state formed?
- 2 Classical theories of the social contract
- 3 The constitution of the welfare state
- 4 Towards a new concept: biopower
- 5 Annexes
- 6 References
How was the modern state formed?[edit | edit source]
The first authors were Greek and Aristotle and Plato, in particular, questioned the "polis", that is to say, the management of the city (in ancient Greek πόλις / pólis ; In the Latin etymology "civitas"; plural poleis). The "polis" is not only the politics, i. e. the political body, but also the symbolic place of politics. In ancient Greece, the Republic functions by political body, but also by a place of politics which is the agora. In the Greek democratic tradition, what makes sense is the debate, namely the dialogue that takes place in a specific place called the agora. Thus, the debate is the basis of democracy, because there is a debate and there is democracy. It is politics that happens in the symbolic place of politics.
In this questioning, there is also the place of democracy and how it can be constituted as a natural state.
Politics takes place in a space that is characterised by a specific dimension which is the public space; it is a place of dialogue that is public, the debate takes place in public. Thus, politics in a public space is characterized by the word from which two notions flow, i. e. that it is the place of a debate and the physical place of the debate.
What is important in the very constitution of Greek philosophy and Greek democracy is these two fundamentally different spheres.
The two spheres of the Greek city are:
- the public sphere: space for sharing;
- the private sphere: private domain.
A frontier is being built and conceptualized between public and private affairs, with the understanding that the public sphere is the place where democratic debate takes place and the private sphere is the domain of the family. Often, authority is given to the head of the household who has authority in the private sphere. Every individual at all times lives in two different spheres, namely the private and public sphere.
These two spheres are not immutable in their definition, they evolve according to the nature of political systems and modes of government. Unlike Athens which is a democracy, Sparta is a warrior city; its important strategic military stake is to make war which is characterized by a difference in the private-public functioning on the basis that a boy from the age of 12 years old is considered as a military future.
The public sphere refers to all that is the order of the community and the common good, that is, the order of the community and a common destiny with common interests to be shared. This can range from the pure management of the city to religion and the education of children, it is of the order of common participation that differentiates the statutes. The citizen is the one who can participate in the public space, it is the free man who can control his fate and build his historicality opposing the slave. Thus, in the Athenian city, slavery is one thing. In the city, the Greek then Roman "polis" advocated a distinction of status, between citizens who can participate in the collective destiny of the city and those who are not free who are slaves who are returned to the private sphere.
The hypothesis being that for there to be politics there must be a public space for exchange. The "polis" is the entity to govern.
Every democracy necessarily needs to build a public space, which is the space where dialogue meets and transcends private space. There is always an articulation between private and public spaces. Within the framework of a dictatorship, there are places that will resemble the public space which, in terms of functionality, are spaces of manifestation of the regime to concentrate and control crowds for the approval of its power. However, in the philosophical sense, it is not a public space, because it is impossible to debate it. Henceforth, the issue of public space is fundamental to democracy, what resists in dictatorships is public space, but its use and functionality in terms of usage is different from the public space of democracy.
Historically, there is the private space which is the space of the family and the public space in the sense of democracy, the management of the common good and pooling.
The assumption of political philosophy depends on two spheres. In the 19th century, a third sphere appeared, the social sphere, which would interfere between the public and private spheres. Through the society, a new mode of governmentality is emerging.
How did we move from a classical sphere of government to a social management system where collective norms are defined to ensure collective happiness?
What will make it possible to build the bonds of spheres is the social contract: the emergence of a modern political philosophy stipulating that individuals must be bound by a contract.
What is the nature of this social contract binding individuals?
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The classical theories of the social contract were to be developed between 1579 and 1762, they were fundamental because they would forge the political theory of the modern state. To return to the question of the social contract is to question what is at the heart of our democracies, namely the contractualisation of relations, if there is no contractualisation of relations, there is no democracy.
The individual contracts out his or her relationship within the society that defines rights, but also duties.
This is the foundation of modern state theory presupposing an agreement with individuals to contract something out. In other words, there must be a pact between citizens and those who are allowed to take on management responsibilities; it is an agreement to live together; that is, it is an agreement necessary to find between the individuals who contract their relations, their rights and their duties towards the politics that give birth to the modern state.
There is no modern state without an agreement, without the institution of a sovereign state contract. There are three basic elements of the social contract:
- Theories of natural law:
All rights are specific to men regardless of their belonging to any particular political society. It is a logic of relationship state of nature - god relationship. It is the philosophy that consists in saying that in the state of nature there are obligations which are incumbent on each other. Man must have conduct under the weight of religion.
- The social contract:
a technical tool with a legal scope that sets conditions and regulations for living together. It is necessary to produce a tool that is legal and therefore normative, which sets out the conditions for regulating living together. This technical tool explains how living together works.
- 'The principle of sovereignty:
The state is a form and structure, it has limits that set the framework of authority. There is the institution of a structure that will set the framework for its authority and unity. Thus, what rule of law should be built in order to facilitate the social contract and what relationship should individuals have with it?
The social contract means three things: management of natural law, then a social contract that will change or develop natural law within the framework of a contractualization and finally a constitution of the modern state with the principle of sovereignty within the framework of a modern state with responsibilities and obligations.
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According to Grotius, it is first and foremost necessary to look at natural law by asking the question of the need for a social contract. We must connect natural law, divine law as creatures of God, we must bring out animality and connect natural law in order to avoid falling into animality by creating a social contract for the creation of the modern state.
For Grotius, the social contract must be applied to everyone. He views society as a whole. There must be continuity between natural law, social contract and sovereignty. The social contract makes it possible to perpetuate the natural right.
Grotius imagines the fact that it is possible to transfer the natural right to a state right to get out of animality is to give man the conditions to live in peace, in harmony while honouring God.
In the contract, he defined the idea of a transfer of rulers to governors. Everyone must relinquish part of their responsibilities in order to be able to accept the constitution of a sovereign state that will govern us.
This contract will be put in place in two phases: voluntary association, we relinquish part of our responsibilities and submit ourselves to consent. This means that from the moment one voluntarily agreed to relinquish part of one's responsibilities to the State one voluntarily accepted subjection, it is the acceptance of a relationship of dependency or relationship with the State.
In particular, Etienne de la Boétie drafted a treaty on voluntary servitude, which is the act of agreeing to depend on voluntary dependence, that is to say, abandoning part of his prerogatives to the State, which gives it the capacity to manage them collectively for society.
Therefore, for Grotius, it is possible to transfer from the individual right to a government right in which the contract document arrives. The contract, therefore, signifies acceptance and consent to the agreement.
If individuals have voluntarily agreed to relinquish their rights, then the form of government that is to be derived from them will retain and structure the divine natural right.
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Thomas Hobbes considers that the state of nature is a state of conflict and violence, so he hypothesizes that basically there is no positive will to come together, they are obliged to come together because of their egoism and not because they want to live together. It is a paradox because individuals are obliged to do so, basically, if they are obliged to do so, there is always the possibility of continuing war and conflict so that they come to their senses through latent selfishness and not through democratic ideology.
The fundamental issue is the definition of a social contract because this is what will make it possible to conceive of peace and overcome evil. In Hobbes' theory, there is an opposition to Grotius, not to say that there is a transfer of natural law through the contract, but the contract is the mode of breach of natural law on the basis that part of its natural rights must be relinquished to the community.
Therefore, it is necessary to transfer individual ways of acting towards a State by accepting the limitation of its rights in the modern State, the State will be manager of collective security in order to give it the responsibility to ensure collective peace, which implies the abandonment of a part of natural rights.
In other words, depending on the position of the state of nature, the social contract will be made not by a collective desire for peace, but by selfish management of interests.
Thus, Grotius reflects on the divestiture:
- Consensus: individuals collectively agree to give up their natural rights in order to contribute to a single action;
- Union: several wills come together in one, it is the grouping around a single will that promotes union.
Through these models, the nature of the social contract is at stake.
What is important in Hobbes' theory is the concept of reciprocity, we must relinquish some of the responsibilities to the State in exchange for which the latter must guarantee to manage what has been abandoned. Thus, democracy is the best political system because it favours the contractualization of relations. In order to recover the abandoned rights in another form, democracy is the most interesting political form because it ensures that the people retain the choice of what they have conceded.
Hobbes goes further than Grotius in describing two important aspects of the social contract:
- In order to guarantee external security within the framework of the sovereign state, it must protect all its citizens in the event of conflict,
- On the other hand, he puts forward the idea of internal security, because the state must ensure the external, but he must also produce the contract in order to produce a good for the whole population.
In the theory of the social contract, there is also the idea of the contractualization of the relationship between the State and individuals in order to guarantee them basic needs.
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Pufendorf was a diplomat and a German jurist, he will eliminate all theological discourse by removing religion from the social contract saying that "men must be governed by positive laws which must make it possible to construct this new sovereignty.
So we are going to arrive at a double contract which is first of all the convention, i. e. the fact that individuals will collectively agree to give up their rights, then it is the contractor's assembly which reflects on democracy.
The first contract is a contract is a consensualist contract of abandonment of one's freedoms, the second contract is the choice of the sovereign which must be made by contractual agreement and exchange of mutual promises.
Thus, Pufendorf dared the question of how to build a new sovereign power. He evacuates theological discourse to distinguish between natural laws, revealed (God's laws) and positive laws. These allow the public space to develop.
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The initial theory is that the natural man is neither good nor bad, he is in a state of ignorance, his only virtue is pity only having to meet primary needs. What has caused mankind to shift from the state of nature is private property.
In Rousseau's political philosophy, in civil society, the greatest evil is private property, which has introduced differences between individuals that have created inequalities. From then on, the whole history of the construction of modern society sets the construction of inequality through property that has led to the creation of deep gaps in wealth.
Technical revolutions have exacerbated inequalities. The disruption of equality has led to disorder, competition, rivalry and exploitation. Henceforth, despotism is the seizure of certain wealth by some.
We must be wary of the false social contract that the rich seek to contract with the poor whom he seeks to dominate.
The true social contract is the one that would be able to raise the question of the general will against private interests, which are special interests, whereas the general will must be collective. Rousseau raises the question of the general interest and public space. What will enable regulation and get out of the false social contract is the reconstitution of public space.
Without the basis of public space, there can be no return to morality and the return of the law.
The social contract according to Rousseau is the pooling of forces around two notions: freedom and collective destiny. The social contract is not necessarily on the side of force, but on the side of protection and negotiation, but on the side of an adventurous and advantageous exchange. What is at the centre is to keep everyone's freedom within a collective framework of exchange.
Good government is that which is done with the people within the framework of contractualization, since the people are in favour of the social contract; this leads to a global thought of the social contract.
The constitution of the welfare state[edit | edit source]
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Arendt will say that the advent of the social coincides historically with the transformation of the public interest with what was once a competition with the private interest.
For Arendt, the social is to live in society, in classical political theory there is no conceptualization of the social, there is no recognition of social living. On the one hand, there's the "politikos" (Πολιτικός, Politikos), from the other there the family of « oikos » (from the ancient Greek οἶκος, « house », « patrimony »)which is deprivation and retreating, it is a backward space where the outside cannot look at the family.
The Middle Ages will be characterized by an extension of the private domain; the great turning point is the modern era, i. e. the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, because the emergence of the sphere of the social sphere, which is the shift from the private to the social, from the intimate to the social. The family enters into a productive economy, it becomes a unit of production, it is no longer only private property, but to have with a related stake the public issue.
Capitalism produces new wealth; in the industrial revolution, the conditions of individuals become poorer, marking a dysfunction of society with many problems (strikes, pandemic revolutions, etc.). The industrialists and then the State question the social (ex-children in mining) and the stakes they represent.
From then on, the family became a unit of production and education became a public issue. From the 16th and 18th centuries onwards, the private sphere will diminish in favour of a third sphere which is the social sphere or the private sphere is limited because it opposes politics and the social sphere.
The social is becoming central to the preoccupation of the public space on the basis that if the social is not managed, we run into social catastrophes. Society becomes a strategic issue of government. The question is no longer about having a public space of government, but about the need to manage society.
It is a revolution because the social sphere upsets the cursor between public and private space.
The family was inherently private property. Arendt shows that there is a social advent with a new referent. It is the reinterpretation of the family not as a private object, but as a unit of production. Education therefore becomes a public issue that refers back to the capacity of the future of society itself. The private sphere becomes the sphere of general interest.
Arendt postulates that this upheaval would come from Rousseau because he would be the first to have assumed the shift from the private to the social. The period from the 16th to the 18th century is characterized by a decline in the representation of the family's weight in society.
A third fact appears and the company will demand accountability. Efforts will be made to establish public rules that will produce policies. Social groups will be absorbed in the interpretation of a single society: it is the new sphere of governance that brings into play the emerging public authority through a host of mechanisms to manage society.
From then on, a social sphere emerges a social contractual sphere that will demand accountability from the family. Now that the family is no longer part of the private sphere, we have to be accountable for what happens inside. The phenomenon of transfer is important because there are rules for all that are enacted because the populations are absorbed by the social sphere that characterizes the birth of the modern state on the representation of the social state as a collectivity.
Arendt made it possible to put the theoretical structure on the advent of the social in his work entitled the condition of modern man.
Social control: madness and crime[edit | edit source]
Michel Foucault is a philosopher of thought who has worked on modern society. He studies the genealogy of knowledge. It postulates that societies are built by a set of knowledge and techniques, in order to understand society we must analyze it not as an intangible thing, but as constructions of societies.
Society has knowledge that holds a history. They allow us to understand the functioning of today's society and what has changed the registers of analysis to analyse society as a societal construct.
For Foucault, the societies in which we live have developed systems that are modes of government, but in reality they are only the way society represents itself.
Foucault's interest is to distance our behaviours in order to analyze them historically and culturally.
Foucault carries out this archaeology from two specific institutions, namely the hospital and prison, which are two major institutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. He wrote two books on this subject: From Madness to the Classical Age in 1961, and Monitoring and Punishing: The History of Prison in 1964.
This is a question about the basement of knowledge and equipment, given that the prison and the general hospital are facilities that structure the city. He will notably do so around the construction of medical knowledge around the 16th to 19th centuries, wondering how madness became an operational concept in society. Thus madness is situated as a representation.
He studies the mechanisms of power: power manufactures equipment and in reality they have the function of creating a social framework dispersed throughout society.
Madness[edit | edit source]
It is a social and political construction. It places us on the side of representations and allows us to identify what is a normative issue. In the Middle Ages, as long as God exists the fool is an innocent according to the divine will, from then on madness is a creation of God. The madman carries within him a simplicity of spirit qualified by God and stemming from a mystery which maintains that he must not be mistreated. Because he's innocent, he has a spirit of tolerance. The relationship between reasonable man and madness is compassionate. The morphology of the presence of madness resides in the village.
From the 17th century onwards, the paradigm of madness was placed on the side of folly." Madness is within reason "it does not come from elsewhere, but from our world". As soon as God is evacuated, madness is removed from reason becoming exteriority. Madness is a disease. It is thus that medicine seizes this object as a scientific object and finds endogenous reasons, it is a fabrication of the institutions of the disease.
In particular, an institution of madness and separation (the psychiatric hospital) will emerge, i. e. a general equipment that allows the madman to be exiled from the society of free men set up by the modern state.
It is the modern invention of internment, the madman is interned, what accomplishes the rupture of reason and unreason, it is the modern invention of isolation. It describes a manufacturing process by modern companies of a normative system that shifts the tolerance thresholds.
Foucault shows that when society introduces specific reading tools, the modern state will itself instrumentalize the issue by seeking technical tools.
Prison[edit | edit source]
At first, it was a policy of torture or the accused must be physically penalised. It may in some cases have been a place of privilege for the rich. We are going to move from a penalty punishment to a defence punishment where the prison is going to be a place of confinement or the stake is distance from the body, in other words, the withdrawal of society. It is no longer the punishment of the body, but that of the soul in order to block an individual in isolation. Modern prison functions on: individual isolation, work, and the variability of the sentence. Basically, prison is the opposite of society, it's obscurity. Prison is the invention of institutionalized illegalism. The word "illegality" refers to the concept of collective norms where every abnormal behaviour can be punished. For Foucault, laws are only the product of a balance of power at a given moment in time. The poor also represent a certain type of threat to social order. In order to manage popular illegalism, a set of prescriptions will be given to enable them to find their place.
The creation of the social state is the creation of an important social sphere that will concern itself with the lives of individuals, but can only do so if their behaviour and morals are normalized. For Foucault, we are entering into a repressive system that belongs to the State, he becomes the guarantor of collective security. The State becomes the guarantor of social security, will be built a system where prerogatives for the management of the individual will be extended.
From the 19th century onwards, the birth of the social question emerged, i. e. the fact that all elements of society had to be dealt with to give it unity and convergence in its modes of doing and obligations.
From then on, the social question will first be thought of as being opposed to revolutions.
Theories of solidarity and the insurance paradigm[edit | edit source]
At Durkheim, the idea emerges that society can only be thought of through the implementation of a collective solidarity that allows all individuals to unite around a common destiny. What is not of the solidarity order will be sanctioned on the contrary, which is of the solidarity order will be approved and strengthened. In the 19th century, the social sphere can only expand. It raises a complex relationship between freedom and social, the question of how far can we go in order to construct the social sphere and to what extent the construction of the social sphere as a productive field can go without calling into question the question of individual freedom.
Mechanical solidarity at Durkheim is solidarity in the early societies, which means that individuals are mechanically in solidarity with each other.
Basically, modern society, which is a society of differential specialization, makes us abandon mechanical solidarity in favour of organic solidarity, i. e. the fact that we are obliged to be in solidarity despite the fact that there are specializations of functions and tasks in society.
The promotion of the social sector makes the representation of society as a whole with the establishment of a social law that puts solidarity into practice.
In the social sphere, it is necessary to manage individuals, and the interest for the State is to put in place policies: it is necessary to manage everything that concerns privacy.
In the creation of welfare state, the most important issue is social. The most important thing is that the social gives rise to political theories: the theory of solidarity.
Thus, Foucault wonders about the notion of society and the need to create a political order through solidarity, which calls for certain theories to be privileged. If there is no solidarity, it is the failure of politics.
This justifies the creation of the modern state and the construction of internal, i. e. social, balance. The state cannot be satisfied on one side of the private sphere and on the other side of the private sphere because the family is part of society.
Emerging is the modern state, which in the 19th century was obliged to take solidarity as an element of political and institutional commitment.
The State will define itself through the social sphere as a State of public service, it must protect its citizens and can only do so by creating a space of social solidarity, i.e. a space where differences are taken into account in an attempt to cushion and reduce them.
The literature on the end of the social state reminds us that from the moment we enter a liberal world where politics is dispossessed of part of its power through economics, politics no longer has the means to manage the social sphere, at best to give it to the private sector in the worst case, we will enter into pure violence in our societies.
For Foucault, the social becomes an object of government, since every society is obliged to take the social as an object of government.
In the 19th century, a social economy was to develop which saw the swelling of the responsibility of States in the social field. Between the 18th century, the 1850s and the 1950s, the State will only increase its prerogatives, which explains the concept of the welfare state, i. e. the State has committed itself to increasingly developed fields of the functioning of society in the name of the general interest of this governmentality, the technical thing must be governed.
Society becomes an issue arising from many social laws (formerly the Workers' Compensation Act: law on solidarity between those who work and those who are disabled). Solidarity will extend the scope of social promotion and raise questions about new fundamental areas (e. g. laws on social housing). The fundamental purpose is to repair society's shortcomings: we must be careful of those who do not follow the movement.
The State must be at the heart of solidarity as a public service, it will create links between individuals and manage everyone's contribution to the improvement of society as a whole: it must protect its citizens. The well-being of each individual is a necessary condition for the functioning of the collective. It is to think of the efficiency of the State and that progress and national wealth are collective and individual, which also reverts to the question of the collective.
The social sphere is only growing until the social sphere was questioned in the late 1980s.
At the end of the 19th century, the concept of insurance was invented, giving rise to an insurance paradigm, that is to build a new system of thought around insurance.
François Ewald will work from the point of view of political philosophy. It is a philosophical concept that assumes that individuals are related to each other. From then on in the work there are respective obligations related to the working conditions, so Ewald characterizes the welfare state by the birth of a new law: insurance is a sophisticated system of corporate governance. In order for this to happen, the issue of liability must first be legally qualified.
Insurance companies show that they are part of an insurance company that will be able to invent new risks as a major innovation in contemporary societies. This means that Ewald will study an insurance system by showing how the invention of insurance is constructed by philosophical and conceptual steps that are a reversal of societies. From then on, the accident was no longer inevitable. The social can, therefore, be legally categorized according to social universality. Social needs are normalized around the concept of security and reparation. The law was a mirror of society and produced standards for everyone. Thus, responsibility becomes a question of the State, it is the invention of modern social law.
It is the entry into categories of semantic analysis that define the entire social sphere and in particular work. The best example of welfare state creation at work level is the invention of retirement, which is philosophically an important contribution. It is the invention of intergenerational solidarity. Individuals show solidarity in general and, if possible, in certain areas of intergenerational situations.
Towards a new concept: biopower[edit | edit source]
Through the analysis of the prison and hospice, Foucault postulates that the construction of the modern state is a norm of good societal behaviour which are constructions of devices that aim to manage a thematic segment of society and thus the modern state builds devices. The great devices invented by the modern state in the 19th century were initially repressive and then became welfare state devices.
Foucault questions what is happening in the evolution of the spheres. What emerges today is that politics takes over the life of man. At some point, politics overcomes the management of men. It is necessary to make biology a matter of statehood: man is no longer seen as a rational unit, but as a biological entity to be managed. It is the concept of biopolitics.
The welfare states are gradually obliged to immerse themselves in the name of the complexity of the technology of our societies in the increasingly sophisticated management of mankind that will reach the human being as a being. In our modern societies, it is human beings as such that end up being the problem.
Foucault defines the term biopolitics as "the way to rationalize the problems posed to governmental practice by phenomena specific to a group of living beings constituted in populations". Biopolitics are mechanisms that aim to establish equilibriums and security mechanisms in the population in order to optimize the state of life.
One must consider that one of the directions that the modern state takes regardless of the evolution of the welfare state is to define and care for life as life, so life belongs to the management of politics. Biopolitics will produce a biology policy that would even be a stateisation of biology.
We are entering a time when the fundamental question is human management. There is a new category of political thinking that will be situated at all levels of society to manage the biological man. Politics seizes man not as an animal that thinks, but as a biological being, so politics seizes our life and defines man in biological terms.
Biopolitics is a system formed around biology (formerly therapeutic research). It is a diffusion to the whole of the micro-system society with the aim of manufacturing regulation mechanisms in populations to optimize the "state of life".
For Foucault, biopolitics is the opposite of democracy, because democracy is a thickening of the debate. Thus democracy is on the side of density and thickness, it is not on the side of transparency, which denies the debate and negotiation, which is the richness of democracy. When Foucault condemned in the nineteenth-century prison is that modern prison is the construction of a legible space where everything must be under control, the individual should not escape surveillance, they are physical devices. The concept of visibility is not democracy, but absolute control.
Foucault asks us about our societies that want to make everything visible and smooth. Traceability makes the difference like a problem. From then on, the modern state is about biopolitics, the segment control that makes it possible to interpret mankind as biological systems. Unlike Aristotle and Plato, who postulate that man is the one who has succeeded in leaving biology to think about his animality and difference, the question of biopolitics becomes an interesting concept in an attempt to reread the new public policies that are far beyond man as a man in society.
Annexes[edit | edit source]
- Comment l’obsession sécuritaire fait muter la démocratie, Giorgio Agamben, janvier 2014, Le Monde diplomatique
- La Folie, Victor Duché et Christophe Pénicaut url: http://www.geopsy.com/memoires_theses/la_folie.pdf
- Warren, M. E. (1999). What is Political? Journal of Theoretical Politics, 11(2), 207–231. https://doi.org/10.1177/0951692899011002004
- Ewald, Francois. "Insurance and risk." The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality (1991): 197-210.