1st Edition

Governing Affects Neoliberalism, Neo-Bureaucracies, and Service Work

By Otto Penz, Birgit Sauer Copyright 2020
    186 Pages
    by Routledge

    186 Pages
    by Routledge

    Governing Affects explores the neoliberal transformation of state governance in Europe towards affective forms of dominance exercised by customer-oriented neo-bureaucracies and public service providers.

    By investigating the rise of affective labour in contemporary European service societies and the conversion of state administrations into business-like public services, the authors trace the transformative power of neoliberal political thought as it is put into practice. The book examines new affective modes of subjectivation and activation of public employees, as well as their embodiment of affective requirements, to successfully guide and advise citizens. Neoliberalism induces a double agency in neo-bureaucrats: entrepreneurialism is coupled with affective skills for the purpose of governing clients in their own best interests. These competences are unevenly distributed between the genders, as their affective dispositions differ historically. Drawing on the theoretical concepts of Foucault and Bourdieu, the book offers innovative insights into recent processes of state transformation, affective subjectivation, and changes in labour relations.

    By combining theory building on governance with empirical research in key areas of state power, the book will be of interest to scholars and researchers in a broad range of disciplines, including political science, political sociology, and critical governance studies.

    Introduction: governing affects. 1 On feeling, emotion, and affect: clarifying the concepts in a broad research field. 2 Affective governance, affective governmentality, and affective capital: a theoretical perspective on the transformation of work, governance, and the state. 3 Neoliberal affective transformation of key social fields. 4 Affective labour: neoliberal transformations of paid labour and bureaucratic work. 5 Neoliberal affective governmentality: empirical evidence. Conclusions.


    Otto Penz is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Vienna. His research interests include political sociology and sociology of the body. He is the author of numerous books, one recently with Birgit Sauer: Affektives Kapital: Die ├ľkonomisierung der Gef├╝hle im Arbeitsleben, 2016.

    Birgit Sauer is a Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science, University of Vienna. Her research interests include gender and politics, gender, right-wing populism, and affect. One of her recent publications is the edited volume, with Mojca Pajnik: Populism and the Web: Communicative Practices of Parties and Movements in Europe, 2017.