Governing the unemployed self in an active society

Mitchell Dean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

356 Citations (Scopus)


This paper falls into two parts. The first contributes to the development of concepts necessary to understand questions of ’self-formation’ particularly in relation to domains of government. The second seeksto work these concepts within a case-study of what it calls ’governmental-ethical practices’ The case-study consists of an examination of the recent reform of social security and income support practices concerning the unemployed in Australia and the utilization of the language, rationality and techniques that have been elaborated under the rubric of the ’active society’ by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It offers an analysis of these governmental-ethical practices of the unemployed in terms of what they seek to govern, the means by which they propose to do so, their forms of subjectification, and the mode of existence they envision. It suggests that the analysis of these practices challenges and forces us to refine our approach to the formulae of neoliberal or advanced liberal government.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-583
Number of pages25
JournalEconomy and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1995


  • active society
  • dependency
  • governmentality
  • job-seeker
  • risk
  • Unemployment


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