Governmentalities of Construction: From Mortar to Modular Systems and Markets

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In this paper, we apply Foucault’s concept of governmentality in a dual analysis of the formation and transformation of the construction sector and the construction worker. The governmentality concept is well-suited for such an analysis as it directs attention to the ways in which control is the exercised over a specific area of institutional life through the shaping of individuals’ conduct. We argue that construction, as a coherent sector, first was rendered governable in the 1940s in order to achieve national modernisation. It is shown how the political measures that were based on the exercise of disciplinary power also impacted the formation of identities constituting the construction worker as a normalised subject. We then illustrate how construction since the mid-1990s has been shaped by two contrasting governmentalities framing the sector as respectively a resource area, with emphasis on innovation and capacity building, and as an economic entity, where deregulation and the establishment of free markets are the governmental objectives. With this shift in governmentalities, we argue that new identity formations have taken place in that the construction worker has been rearticulated as a calculative subject with responsibilities for own conduct and the development sector as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 32nd Annual ARCOM Conference
EditorsPaul Chan, Chris Neilson
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationManchester, UK
PublisherARCOM - Association of Researchers in Construction Management
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-0-9955463-0-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9955463-0-1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event32nd Annual ARCOM Conference - Manchester City Hall, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sep 20167 Sep 2016
Conference number: 32


Conference32nd Annual ARCOM Conference
LocationManchester City Hall
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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