The Emotional Life of Governmental Power


  • Elaine Campbell Newcastle University



This paper explores the emotional life of governmental power through the affective domains of confidence and respect in criminal justice, in the context of a climate of insecurities and uncertainties with existing modes of governance. The paper problematises some of the key tenets of the governmentality thesis and questions its core assumptions about forms of rationality, processes of subjectivation and the conditions of possibility for ethical conduct. It also prompts us to reconsider the tenets of contemporary neo-liberal governance, its “rationalities of rule,” technologies and apparatuses, how these work to capture hearts as well as minds, and how these may promote an “emotionalised” art of government such that we might properly speak of “emotionalities of rule.”

Author Biography

Elaine Campbell, Newcastle University

Elaine Campbell is a Reader in Criminology in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University, UK. She teaches courses in cultural criminology, transgression, visual cultures and visual methodologies, and researches and publishes (Cultural Sociology; Science as Culture; Crime, Media, Culture) on the emotionality, aesthetics and ethics of crime and punishment, with a focus on how these are visually and discursively mobilised. Recently completed research studies include a 3 year Knowledge Transfer Partnership [KTP006241: ESRC/Northumbria Criminal Justice Board], which explored and developed alternative epistemological frameworks for understanding public confidence in the criminal justice system; and a qualitative inquiry into the emotional vocabularies of engagement with criminal justice services within black and minority ethnic communities living in the North East of England (Home Office Race Challenge Fund/Northumbria Criminal Justice Board) – see




How to Cite

Campbell, E. (2010). The Emotional Life of Governmental Power. Foucault Studies, (9), 35–53.