Giorgio Agamben's work on biopower thematizes the biopolitical distinction between what the 1789 Declaration distinguishes as citoyen and homme. In this contribution, Foucault's and Agamben's views on biopolitics are critically discussed. It argues that a crucial distinction exists between what can be called zoēpolitics and biopolitics. Whereas the former takes the biological body as its object and is only indirectly geared towards the social body, the latter more directly has the social body as its object. Citizenship can be regarded a crucial form of population control that is both zoēpolitical and biopolitical in scope. It is zoēpolitical in that it distinguishes citizens from non-citizens. It is biopolitical in that it separates the life of 'society' from what is today, for instance, in discourse on immigrant integration, discursively articulated as the 'outside society'. It is thus crucial to take seriously a discourse on what 'society' is, who belongs to it, and who resides 'outside of society', instead of taking the sovereign position of defining 'society' as a social body existing prior to its biopolitical articulation.

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European Journal of Social Theory
Department of Sociology

Schinkel, W. (2010). From zoēpolitics to biopolitics: Citizenship and the construction of 'society'. European Journal of Social Theory, 13(2), 155–172. doi:10.1177/1368431010362300