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Life, science, and biopower

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Science, Technology, and Human Values
Issue number5
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)711-734
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article critically engages with the influential theory of "molecularized biopower'' and "politics of life'' developed by Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose. Molecularization is assumed to signal the end of population-centred biopolitics and the disciplining of subjects as described by Foucault, and the rise of newforms of biosociality and biological citizenship. Drawing on empirical work in Science and Technology Studies (STS), we argue that this account is limited by a focus on novelty and assumptions about the transformative power of the genetic life sciences. We suggest that biopower consists of a more complex cluster of relationships between the molecular and the population. The biological existence of different human beings is politicized through different complementary and competing discourses around medical therapies, choices at the beginning and end of life, public health, environment, migration and border controls, implying a multiple rather than a singular politics of life.