Professor Nikolas Rose 

King’s College London

Keynote: Making us resilient: responsible citizens for uncertain times.

To inculcate the obligations of responsibility – has this not been the aspiration of almost all who hope to govern human beings, who seek to implant technologies of ‘self-mastery’ in each individual who is to live their lives in a condition of freedom rather than of domination?  In this paper, I locate this repeated return to the theme of responsibility within the genealogy of ‘ethopolitics’ – the ways in which sentiments, values and beliefs are deployed as a medium through which the self-government of the individual can be linked with the imperatives of good government.  I briefly review some of the configurations for the ‘conduct of conduct’ from the mid-nineteenth century to the present in which responsibility has been central. From this perspective, I examine the rise of the term ‘resilience’ in contemporary ethopolitics, and suggest that the ethic of responsibility is being reworked in the context of a concern with managing individual and collective conduct in the face of pervasive insecurity and uncertainty concerning the future.  While some see the rise of resilience strategies as a neoliberal apotheosis of reactionary individualism, I conclude by exploring whether, and in what ways, these new strategies, and the technologies of citizenship to which they are linked, might provide opportunities for a more progressive politics.




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Nikolas Rose has published widely on the social and political history of the human sciences, on the genealogy of subjectivity, on the history of empirical thought in sociology, on law and criminology, and on changing rationalities and techniques of political power.

For the last decade, his work has focussed on the conceptual, social and political dimensions of the contemporary life sciences and biomedicine. His current research concerns biological and genetic psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience; his study of the social implications of the rise of the new brain sciences will be published by Princeton University Press in 2012 as Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind. His most recent books include Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1999), The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton University Press, 2006) and (with Peter Miller) Governing the Present.  He is a longstanding member of the Editorial Board of Economy and Society and co-editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for social studies of the life sciences.

Nikolas Rose is Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine at King’s College London. He originally trained as a biologist before switching to psychology and then to sociology. After ten years at Goldsmiths College, where he was Head of Sociology and Pro-Warden for Research, he joined the London School of Economics in 2002 and was Convenor of the Department of Sociology from 2002 to 2006 and Martin White Professor of Sociology. He founded the BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society at LSE, and was its Director since its inception in 2003.  He joined King’s in January 2012 to establish the new Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine.

Nikolas Rose is a member of several advisory groups including the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and has recently worked closely with the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is Chair of the European Neuroscience and Society Network, a unique interdisciplinary collaboration of social scientists, philosophers, lawyers, neuroscientists and psychiatrists.


Professor Cris Shore

University of Auckland

Audit Culture and the Politics of Responsibility: Beyond Neoliberal Responsibilization?



The term ‘responsibility’ has become a defining feature of contemporary neoliberal societies. Notions of responsibility now permeate all aspects of society and social policy, from discourses about social inclusion, deviancy and crime, to ideas about parenting, welfare, taxation and citizenship. However, responsibility is an ambiguous concept; it evokes a powerful sense both of agency and accountability, empowerment and policing, autonomy and blame. In this lecture I ask ‘how can we use the concepts of responsibility and responsibilisation to shed light on contemporary forms of governance and power?’


Drawing on ethnographic examples from New Zealand and Britain, I examine how responsibility features within neoliberal policy agendas. Extending this analysis, I show how neoliberal projects of responsibilisation are being extended through the application of techniques derived from modern management and financial accounting. I argue that this ‘audit culture’ has become a key instrument for producing responsibilised subjects on the one hand, but increasingly irresponsible and unaccountable financial institutions on the other. This raises important questions about the relationship between responsibility and power. Finally, I return to the debate about moving ‘beyond neoliberal responsibilization’ to ask what lessons we can draw regarding the possibilities for contesting these processes of accounting and governance that are shaping our world and ourselves?



My main research interests are in the field of political anthropology, particularly the study of policy and organisations. I am currently involved in four research projects:

University Reform and Globalization I lead a team of Auckland University social science researchers in a multi-disciplinary project that is examining the impacts of globalisation, neoliberalisation and New Public Management on universities. Our study is looking at the process of higher education reform from cross-cultural, comparative and ethnographic perspectives. This is a 4-year project, funded by the European Commission (Marie Curie IRSES Award) and the New Zealand Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST). The aims of the project are to provide an evidence base and theoretically-informed analysis of the way the culture and character of academia are changing, and impact the reforms are having on academic and student subjectivities.

Anthropology of Policy This project aims to map out the contours of a new field of anthropology. It builds on my previous research on policy and power which explored systems of government and studies of elite culture, but with a particular focus on ‘public policy’ as an object of anthropological research. A new volume, Policy Worlds (co-edited with Susan Wright and Davide Pero) was published by Berghahn in May 2011. This work also develops from a wider transnational research collaboration as part of the American Anthropological Association’s ‘International Group for Anthropology in Public Policy’ (IGAPP), of which I am a member of the executive group.

The Crown in New Zealand: Anthropological and Legal Perspectives on an Essentially Contested Concept Funded by the University of Auckland Te Wharekura research initiative, this project examines the Crown in New Zealand as a contested symbol. It brings together a team of researchers from Anthropology and Law to analyse contrasting perspectives (legal, historical, political and demotic) on the Crown in New Zealand. I am Principal Investigator (PI).

Reconstructing Democracy in Europe State-formation and governance in the EU are among my major research interests. I am currently part of an EU FP6-funded project exploring welfare reform and democracy in Europe (RECON). I am also engaged in a collaborative project (with Maureen Benson-Rea, International Business) which explores EU diplomacy and diplomats.

Publications include Up Close and Personal: On Peripheral Perspectives and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge, (Shore, C. and Trnka, S. 2013), Policy Worlds: Anthropology and the Analysis of Contemporary Power (Shore, Cris, Wright, Susan and Pero, Davide 2011)  Corruption: Anthropological Perspectives (Haller, D. and Shore, C. (eds), 2005), Elite Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives (Shore, C. and Nugent, S. (eds), 2002), and Building Europe: The Cultural Politics of European Integration (2000).





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