Governmentality, Science and the Media. Examining the “Pandemic Reality” with Foucault, Lyotard and Baudrillard


  • Jean-Paul Sarrazin University of Antioquia
  • Fabián Aguirre Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana



Governmentality, Pandemic, Legitimation, Biopower, Scientific Debate


This article examines the legitimization process of the public health preventive measures implemented in many Western countries following the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. Through concepts such as governmentality, disciplinarization and security mechanisms proposed by Foucault, we trace some of the basic principles and implications of the relationship between biopower and medicine, as well as the media dissemination of an official narrative on scientific truth. These reflections are complemented by the contributions of Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard. Lyotard reflects on the relationship between science and a “performative game”, whose own staging is the core of its criteria of truth. Baudrillard shows the relevance of a “hyperreality” in which the signs presented by the media take precedence over the experience of the subjects. We argue that a mediatized version of science, defined through a strong disciplinarization of knowledge and the censorship of dissident voices, played a key role in the establishment of consensus and the legitimization of policies that granted extraordinary power to governments and transnational elites. Although the work of Foucault in this demonstration is essential, the contributions of Lyotard and Baudrillard provide additional elements to understand a fundamental problem: the public acceptance of “truth” as an instrument of governmentality on a global scale.

Author Biographies

Jean-Paul Sarrazin, University of Antioquia

Jean-Paul Sarrazin received his PhD in sociology from the University of Poitiers (France). He is the leader of the research team ‘Religion, Culture and Society’ at the University of Antioquia. He is the author of two books and more than thirty papers, most of them related to the links between culture, subjectivity and power. He is currently working on a project entitled “Faith in Science. A critique on the new forms of governmentality”.

Fabián Aguirre, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

Fabián Aguirre is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, Colombia. His current research explores the connection between the theological and anthropological roots of American society and the burst of nihilist violence. Prior to his current research, Fabián finished his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the Universidad de Antioquia (Medellín), with a work on Heidegger's “Heimatlosigkeit” (uprooting) concept.


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How to Cite

Sarrazin, J.-P., & Aguirre, F. (2023). Governmentality, Science and the Media. Examining the “Pandemic Reality” with Foucault, Lyotard and Baudrillard. Foucault Studies, (35), 21–45.



Special Issue: Biopolitical Tensions after Pandemic Times