Conducting Government: Governmentality, Monitoring and EU Counter-Terrorism

Steffen Wittendorp

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    This article draws on Foucault's concept of governmentality in order to challenge the view of EU counter-terrorism as simply a response to terrorism. Rather than focusing on the policies directly targeting terrorism, it is concerned with technologies designed to improve the governance process. The article examines three technologies designed for shaping the conduct of government. These technologies are not value-free but underpinned by specific assumptions of what governing can achieve and, as such, they are implicated in the (re)production of insecurity rather than, as institutionalist accounts do, locating the source of insecurity as external to these institutions. In other words, insecurity is in part brought about by the governance process. The article looks at three technologies targeting the gap—this latter term referring to the difference between a current state of affairs diagnosed as undesirable and the ideal situation (lagging policy implementation for instance). The technologies—the action plan, the timetable and the Counter-Terrorist Coordinator—are premised on the understanding of bridging the gap as instrumental to the provision of security. This mode of governing fuels a circular logic whereby the need to perform better leads to calls for improved monitoring and vice versa.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)465-483
    Number of pages19
    JournalGlobal Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • EU
    • Counter-terrorism
    • Governmentality
    • Monitoring
    • Foucault

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