Mathieu Potte-Bonneville

Du penseur de l'usage aux luttes des usagers

Listening track

[00:00-02:54] The purpose of this presentation is to make visible the empirical character of current political struggles because it is precisely at this level that current political stakes hang in the balance. In this regard, Michel Foucault’s thought proves particularly fruitful for those fights that have an adversarial nature and structure themselves around the notion of “use”. [02:55-07:29] Potte-Bonneville consults the struggles of prison consumers (usagers) as a specific case and, at the same time, paradigmatic of other practices of resistance and highlights issues and shifts in the domain of the juridical (changes in the rule of law and legal proceedings), the punctual acts of claiming, and the development of the category of consumer in the political sphere. [07:30-15:01] What Foucaultian grid can enable us to understand these new forms of struggle? The analysis of Discipline and Punish and Society Must Be Defended targets the issue of the production of individuals as political subjects and underlines the tactical polyvalence of discourse. In fact, the most meaningful aspect of these “consumers’ struggles” is that the very notion of “use” works today as a key concept of neoliberal political rationality, but, meanwhile, it works also as a tactical support for practices of resistance that aim to radically question this rationality. [15:02-26:34] The immediacy of these struggles and the intolerable dimension of power are elements that characterize the movement of consumers. Their purpose, as Foucault points out, is neither to seize power nor to overthrow the opposition between the governing and the governed but to negotiate a space of freedom. [26:35-36:14] This does not mean that they are less radical: on the contrary, they fight power in its most direct assertion without the logic of the reversal of power relations. These struggles are irreducible to classical figures of political subjectivity. [36:15-48:15] By starting from the idea of tactical polyvalence of the consumer, Potte-Bonneville marks an interesting distinction between “normative uses” and “counter-uses” through the concept of “counter-conduct”. Every resistance, Potte-Bonneville argues, is affected by this distinction because a struggle is never totally outside power but rather a force that seeks to influence it. [48:16-01:15:28] Discussion.

Keywords: normed uses, counter-uses, specific struggles, tactical polyvalence (of discourses), practices of subjectivation.

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