European Citizenship and Evidence-Based Happiness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Michel Foucault’s analysis of the development of modern forms of government in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and his account of governmentality opened up a perspective through which to analyse the operation of power (Foucault, 1991a, 1991b, 2005). The emergence of statistics – “the science of the state” (Foucault, 1991a, p. 99) – and the objects of statistical knowledge were identified as part of the complex of techniques for the production of a particular form of normalised individuality. More recent analyses from this perspective have shown how the object of government has shifted in advanced liberal modes of governmentality (e.g. Barry, Osborne, & Rose, 1996) and thus how the citizen has been reconceptualised in the context of the decline of the welfare state and the increasing privatisation of expertise, “implanting in citizens the aspiration to pursue their own civility, wellbeing and advancement” (Barry et al., 1996, p. 40; Biesta, 2009, p. 150). In this context, education or learning has become central to the production of a particular form of citizenship. Learning is no longer understood as taking place in particular institutions or designated periods in our lives (Rose, 1999) but as being a lifelong and life-wide process of self-improvement, requiring an attitude of willingness to adapt to the constantly changing demands of the globalised, competitive, knowledge economy (Simons & Masschelein, 2008). The role of statistics has also shifted: while “statistics might once have been a governmental activity, since the middle of the twentieth century it has become a business” (Rose, 2000, p. 230).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational Research
Subtitle of host publicationthe Ethics and Aesthetics of Statistics. Educational Research.
EditorsP Smeyers, M Depaepe
PublisherSpringer, Dordrecht
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-481-9873-3
ISBN (Print)978-90-481-9872-6
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2010

Publication series

NameEducation Research


  • governance
  • happiness
  • European citizenship
  • positive psychology


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