Ambivalences of voluntariness

Informations pratiques

Lundi 10 juin 2024 > 9h00-16300 Université Paris Nanterre, bât Max Weber rdc, salle n°2
Calling an action “voluntary” suggests that it is unforced, “characterized by free will or choice” and sparked by an agent’s autonomous decision making. However, voluntariness is much more ambivalent. First, even if unforced, any action is embedded in a multi-layered field of external and internalized conditions, incentives, ideals, and necessities, which conduct “voluntary” decision-making and behavior and which we may not even be aware of. Second, perceiving or calling an action “voluntary” denotes it as particularly praise- or blameworthy, as it makes an action appear the effect of an agent’s free choice. Therefore, on one hand, voluntariness can be a resource of recognition and distinction, and become the aim of a politics that seeks to incite certain kinds of voluntary action. On the other hand, a politics of voluntariness facilitates the marginalization and exclusion of those people, who do not want to or cannot engage voluntarily, for instance because of lacking ability or resources. Against this backdrop, the workshop explores how modern societies are “governed” (M. Foucault) by voluntariness, and how this governing entails multiple ambivalences.
9h00-10h45 | Session I

Jürgen Martschukat | U Erfurt “The nominal essence of the human species”: Liberal governing and John Locke’s concept of voluntary choice
Mitchell Dean | CBS  The concept of authoritarian governmentality today

11h15-13h00 | Session II

Maud Simonet | CNRS Voluntarily working for free? Thinking beyond the ambivalence of the will: a feminist legacy.
Philipp Lorig | FSU Jena  Voluntariness as a resource in digital capitalism

14h45-16h30 | Session III

Silvan Niedermeier | U Erfurt Contested Returns. Voluntariness and the Debates on the Repatriation of Ancestral Remains in 1980s Australia and the United States
Alexandra Oeser | U Paris-Nanterre, ISP/Centre Marc Bloch Ghosts of the past : Voluntariness, Memory-politics, youth and business