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SOCIAL THEORY and the Sociological Discipline(s) - page 38 / 44





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37 ESA Social Theory Conference, Innsbruck, September 11-13, 2008

Friso van Houdt

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Citizenship as Instrument of Bio-Power: Identifying Changes in the Functioning of Citizenship in the Netherlands in Times of Glocalization and Culturistic Discourse

Citizenship is a concept strategically used as a solution for differing problems. For example Aristotle used citizenship as solution for the problem of ruling and to be ruled and Gaius used citizenship as a solution for the problem of the protection of the individual. As a consequence citizenship has historically developed into a multilayered and multifunctional concept. In this paper the functioning of citizenship in contemporary Dutch policy has been analyzed. This analysis has ‘situated’ citizenship in the period of ‘glocalization’ (i.e. migration)

and it has been ‘contextualized’ in a ‘culturistic’ discourse (Schinkel, 2007). The analysis showed that citizenship is a useful instrument of ‘bio-power’ (Foucault, 1976): with citizenship it becomes possible to differentiate and regulate population(s) because it functions as social closure of the nation-state and society. It further showed that citizenship in contemporary Dutch policy is used as a solution for problems of social integration and therefore a new kind of citizenship developed: bio-political participation.

Paula-Irene Villa

Munich, Germany

The subject(s) of gender gender sociology

– social theory within

excellent focus in order to think through the core issues of sociology. Following this standpoint, one can trace the ‘import’ of almost all core concepts and of almost all relevant theories (and methodologies) into the social study of gender.

Gender Studies have been one of the most prolific and maybe most visible sub-disciplines within (European) social sciences for the last decade. Despite being genuinely trans- or interdisciplinary, the analysis of gender as a core social difference and as an important social structure (which intersects with other relevant social differences and structures such as class, race/ethnicity) calls for an equally firm and flexible theoretical grounding. Gender sociology reflects many core issues of social theory such as structure, difference, construction (of knowledge, ‘Lebenswelt’, etc.), self, etc., often challenging the supposed neutral meaning of these concepts as presented by the (supposedly) more general social theory. In short: gender issues might be seen as a specific version of the more general question of social theory. Or, as I would rather argue, gender sociology makes an

In my presentation, I will highlight one of the most recent imports from ‘general’ social theory to ‘specific’

gender analysis,






concerning the subject and/or subjection. Further, I will argue that gender sociology (or even: feminist theory) has to some extent been important for social theory regarding critical notions of subjection and by re- introducing Foucauldian readings through the work of Butler and the most recent governmentality studies. Finally, I will sketch a critique of these notions, especially regarding most recent concepts of the neo- liberal self (e.g. Bröckling 2007). In my opinion, these notions tend to reproduce a rather well-known error within social theory/sociology: They reduce persons to mere effects of structures, ignoring the own logic of practice, experience, and embodiment.

Mary Vogel

Oxford/London, UK

Democracy and the Shifting Balance of Public and Private Governance

In thinking about law today, it is sometimes said that there is more law but that the public institutions of the state appear to be playing a lesser role in it. Increasingly, one hears talk of the retreat of the state in favour of neoliberalism and of the blurring of the boundary between public and private in criminal justice. Privatisation is advancing rapidly and practices of discretionary informality in the courts are on the rise. This paper argues that there is a shift underway in the balance between public and private power. It is one with powerful implications for accountability. Contours and dynamics of that shift are explored.

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