Assembling restructuring: governmentality, economic regulation and the historical emergence of the 'enterprising farmer' in Australian agricultural policy
Higgins, V, Assembling restructuring: governmentality, economic regulation and the historical emergence of the 'enterprising farmer' in Australian agricultural policy, Review of International Political Economy, 8, (2) pp. 311-328. ISSN 0969-2290 (2001) [Refereed Article]
In the last 15 years the term 'restructuring' has been used by scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explain the economic and social changes experienced within Australia and other Western nations. While these analyses have been productive in accounting for restructuring in terms of the historical structural relations between fractions of capital and the state, this paper argues for an understanding of the more subtle ways through which programmes of economic reform are assembled at the state level. Using the Foucauldian-inspired literature on governmentality, the paper draws attention - through a historical analysis of the emergence in Australian political discourse of formal managerial skills - to the specific rationalities and technologies of governing that enable particular forms of 'restructuring' to be constituted and assembled into a programmatic form. The emergence of farm business management, as a means of improving agricultural productivity, is conceptualized as embedded within a series of problematizations of governing. These problematizations sought to constitute the national economy as in a state of crisis, and previous forms of governing as failing to enhance the capacities of farmers to compete internationally. On this basis, the managerial capacities of farmers emerged as the proper sites through which to pursue 'reform'.
economic regulation, governmentality, self-reliance, farming, Australia