A Relational Approach to an Analytics of Resistance: Towards a Humanity of Care for the Infirm Elderly – A Foucauldian Examination of Possibilities


  • Nancy Ettlinger Ohio State University




Foucault, epistemology, resistance, governmentality, neoliberalism, medicalization, eldercare


This paper develops a Foucauldian analytics of resistance in relation to components of a system of governance – a governmentality. Techniques of resistance that can transform a governmentality towards the development of a new politics of truth require the design of techniques of resistance to counter directly oppressive techniques of biopower and disciplinary power, in turn to produce new regimes of practices or counter-conduct that can engender a new mentality and set of discourses to convey it. Strategies of resistance towards transformative change in the governance of a population as well as of the self therefore require development following, and in relation to, an analytics of governance. I thread these points through a particular case, the problem of care for the infirm elderly in the United States, focusing specifically on nursing homes by critically synthesizing issues from inter-disciplinary literatures and casting them in terms of governmentalities. I frame the problems of eldercare broadly in terms of interrelated neoliberal and (western) scientific mentalities and associated discourses, and then examine the associated techniques of biopower, disciplinary power, and regimes of practices to identify roots of problems, explain failures of policies, and crucially, to frame the design of techniques of resistance to produce new regimes of counter-conduct.  I suggest avenues of resistance in relation to existing governmentalities on the terrain of inter-firm relations and everyday life in nursing-home care, all currently entangled with government policies, economies of documentation, and dehumanizing scientific practice.


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How to Cite

Ettlinger, N. (2017). A Relational Approach to an Analytics of Resistance: Towards a Humanity of Care for the Infirm Elderly – A Foucauldian Examination of Possibilities. Foucault Studies, (23), 108–140. https://doi.org/10.22439/fs.v0i0.5344