The Labour of Subjectivity: Foucault on Biopolitics, Economy, Critique, by Andrea Rossi. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2015, 208 pp., ISBN: 9781783486007, £80.00, hardback

AuthorToby Applegate
Publication Date01 Sep 2017
682 British Journal of Industrial Relations
elements (such as reference to labour supply chains and digitization). Further, the
almost exclusive conflation of flexible work with the precarious workforce means we
miss the opportunity to explore the world of HRM, wherenotions of ‘talent’ currently
direct attention to job quality in terms of it as a means of attraction and retention
(providing a very dierent aspect to the notion of job quality).
The collection of topics covered providefruitful ground for further exploration and
the potential for these debates to move from the rarefied air of academia and policy
makers and into the public arena — where the topic of job quality has become a
common but perhaps not well grounded day-to-day issue. What we can hope is that
much of the most revealing work in the future will come from many of the expert
contributors to this book.
Department of Management, Monash University
The Labour of Subjectivity: Foucault on Biopolitics, Economy, Critique,by
Andrea Rossi. Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2015, 208 pp., ISBN:
9781783486007, £80.00, hardback
Andrea Rossi’s The Labour of Subjectivity: Foucault on Biopolitics,Economy, Critique is
a daring read of Foucault’s key works from the lateryears of his lectures at the Coll`
de France. By daring, I mean that Rossi’s project is fraught with pitfalls, but also,
strangely, necessary, as all daring acts seem to be. Rossi’s work is both a genealogical
interrogation of powerintegrated into an inquiry into critique. This feat in relation to
the works of Foucaultis no simple trick and, for the greater part, Rossi accomplishes
the task at hand.
The work is organized into nine chapters within two larger parts entitled ‘The
Governmental Matrix’ and ‘Critique and Subjectivity’, respectively, with short
introductions to each part included as well. The genealogical interrogation of power
occurs in the first part and extends to seven of the nine chapters. In general, it is
an exegesis of Foucault’s thought on governmentality, pastoral care, the subject and
subjectivity, and, interestingly, the complex shift from ‘death as a moment’ to the
‘persistence of death’. It is in this part of the book where Rossi reveals his thoughts
to expose the critical relationship between life and death as a situation,in modernity,
where life and death are ‘coexisting forces that mutually engender and model one
another’ rather than the mere state of death being the absence of life (p. 96). This
relationship is produced byinteractions of the desire to maintain this relationship and
the countervailing force of scarcity within the bioeconomy.
It is here where Rossi’s work is best applied theoretically to subjects of labour
economics, worker/manager relationships and class dierence. In general, the book is
not about labour as workso much as it is about labour as reproducing subjects, which
fits its mission in relation to Foucault perfectly. Put simply: inasmuch as labour is an
activity to fend o death, it is critical for death to exist to put labour into motion
and governance, governmentality and power structures are needed both to compel
this motion, but to also control it. As a reading of Foucault’s work, The Labour
of Subjectivity is masterful in this regard; however, it misses one great point about
Foucault’s intent over the course of the Coll`
ege de France years: Foucaultwas not, in
my opinion, concerned with caring as an act so much as it wasconcerned with care as a
technique, mode or strategy to deploypower against subjects. The appearance of care,
2017 John Wiley& SonsLtd.

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