Sirens in the Panopticon: Intersections Between Ainslean Picoeconomics and Foucault`s Discipline Theory

  • Yevhenii Osiievskyi National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”
  • Maksym Yakovlyev National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”


In this article, we attempt to synthesize the findings of the branch of behavioral economics known as “picoeconomics” (developed by George Ainslie) with insights from Foucauldian thought in order to demonstrate that a richer and more nuanced understanding of strategies for self-managing human irrationality can be achieved when both approaches are mobilized. Picoeconomic games can be modeled as an intrapsychic exercise of the disciplinary power thereby suggesting an important contributing factor to the formation of effective Ainslean will. On the other hand, picoenomic descriptions of the functioning of mind do not only align with Foucault’s concept of the “techniques of the self” but also point to the possibility of the transformation of disciplinary practices into modes of subjectivation once the former are fully internalized. On the basis of these findings, we propose an empirically testable hypothesis about the biographical correlates of strong Ainslean will and a prospective area of subjectivity research in the vein of Foucauldian studies.


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