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A Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law

From Sovereignty to Normalisation and Beyond

Jacopo Martire

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Addresses a surprisingly overlooked Foucauldian conundrum: what is the logical relationship between modern law and power?

Jacopo Martire investigates the development of modern law in conjunction with what Foucault termed biopolitical forms of power. He gives you a much-needed genealogical analysis of the modern legal phenomenon opening new avenues for Foucauldian approaches to law.

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1. An Outline for a Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law
Foucault and the law: an indigestible meal?
Foucauldian responses
An alternative approach: back to Foucault’s "toolbox"
A framework of analysis

2. A Genealogy of Modern Law I: The Political Truth of the Individual
From medieval theology to secularisation
The new foundations of politics
The dilemma of democracy
The features of a new politics

3. A Genealogy of Modern law II: The Political Truth of Society
Three revolutionary declensions of a paradigm shift
The long English Revolution: Government as an institution
The American Revolution: Government as a process
The French Revolution: Government as a program
The Normalising Constitutional Horizon of Modernity

4. The Normalising Complex and the Challenges of Virtualisation
The illocutionary effect of modern law: the creation of the universal subject
Law and other apparati: The normalising complex
Liquid modernity and the biopolitics of control: a tale of virtualisation
The collapse of the normalising complex?
The normative and functional crisis of modern law 

The current status of legal theory
The blockage of the liberal
The blockage of the critical camp
An opening towards new avenues


About the Author

Jacopo Martire is Lecturer in Law at the University of Stirling. His main research interests are in legal and political philosophy, jurisprudence, constitutional theory and European Law.


Taking radical legal theory in a wholly novel direction, Martire argues that contemporary biopolitics, marked indelibly by the emergence of the virtual subject, liquid institutions and an increasingly xenomorphic social body has exploded the utility of modern law and the most specifically the concept of rights. Painstakingly reconstructing the history of legal categories, A Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law returns to the roots of critique and excoriates the repetitively liberal foundations of critical legal thinking.

- Peter Goodrich, Cardozo School of Law, New York

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