Governing Brains – Risky and at Risk
In this talk I will consider the ways in which the brain, in particular the developing brain of the child, has become a new target of attention caught up in strategies of risk, precaution, preclusion, and prevention. On the one hand, a new way is emerging of conceptualizing the relations between anomalies in brain structure and function and aggressive, impulsive, and anti-social conduct – risky persons on account of risky brains. On the other hand, the brain, in particular the developing brain of the child, is increasingly seen as the intermediary between forms of child rearing and problematic conduct of adolescents and adults – persons at risk on account of their brains. This dynamic – risky persons and persons at risk – is not new, but as the brain has come to figure as an intermediary, new strategies are being developed for prediction and prevention, and old strategies are being reframed in neurobiological terms. This paper will try and sketch out these new strategies and relate them to new modalities for governing persons in a neurobiological age.
Nikolas Rose is the James Martin White Professor of Sociology and the Director of the London School of Economics’ BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society, founded in 2003. He joined LSE in 2002, and from 2002–2006 he was convenor of the Department of Sociology. He was previously Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, where he was head of the Department of Sociology, pro-warden for Research, head of the Goldsmiths Centre for Urban and Community Research, and director of a major evaluation of urban regeneration in South East London. He was originally trained as a biologist before switching to psychology and then to sociology. In 1989 he founded the History of the Present Research Network, an international network of researchers whose work was influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault. Together with Paul Rabinow (University of California, Berkeley), he recently edited the fourth volume of Michel Foucault’s Essential Works. From 1996–2004 he was managing editor of Economy and Society, one of Britain’s leading scholarly interdisciplinary journals of social sciences. He edits a Cambridge University Press book series on Society and the Life Sciences (with Paul Rabinow) and is co-editor (with Anne Harrington of Harvard University) of BioSocieties, an interdisciplinary journal for social studies of neuroscience, genomics, and the life sciences published for the LSE since 2006. His current research concerns biological and genetic psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience along with its social, ethical, cultural, and legal implications. He is also a current recipient of a three-year Professorial Research Fellowship of the Economic & Social Research Council. Selected publications: The Psychological Complex: Psychology, Politics and Society in England, 1869–1939 (1984); Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (1999); Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power and Personhood (1996), Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought (1999); The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (2006). His work has been translated into Swedish, Finnish, Danish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Romanian, Portuguese, and Spanish.