What is a Dispositive?


  • Jeffrey Bussolini City University of New York




The distinct French and Italian concepts of appareil/apparato and dispositif/dispositivo have frequently been rendered the same way as "apparatus" in English. This presents a double problem since it collapses distinct conceptual lineages from the home languages and produces a false identity in English. While there are good reasons for which translators have chosen to use "apparatus" for dispositif, there is growing cause for evaluating the theoretical and empirical specificity of each concept, and either to rethink the rendering as "apparatus" or to keep in mind the specific philosophical trajectories of each one. In particular, the ongoing release of Michel Foucault’s Collège de France lecture courses (in which the term is frequently used), and the essays by Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben bearing directly on the dispositif and the dispositivo present a strong case for reevaluating the usage and rendering of these concepts. This paper presents a number of minute considerations on the productive distinction between them.

Author Biography

Jeffrey Bussolini, City University of New York

Jeffrey Bussolini was instructed in Philosophy by Babette Babich, Joan Stambaugh, Stanley Aronowitz, Michel Tibon-Cornillot, and early on by Alfonso Gomez-Lobo and Mark E. Warren. Associate Professor of Sociology-Anthropology at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island. Visiting Scholar in the Center for Social Inclusion, Macquarie University.




How to Cite

Bussolini, J. (2010). What is a Dispositive?. Foucault Studies, (10), 85–107. https://doi.org/10.22439/fs.v0i10.3120



Special Issue on Foucault and Agamben