My article “Freedom and Institution. For an Anti-Anarchist Interpretation of Foucault” (German) was published in the Zeitschrift für Politische Theorie. The article is based on an evening lecture entitled “Dimensions of Freedom in Foucault - A Proposal for Structure”, which I gave at the end of 2018 at the invitation of Felix Krämer at the University of Erfurt. The text summarizes the argument of my monograph Freedom as Critique in a new and particularly accessible way, because I systematically elaborate the various problems of freedom and concepts of freedom that can be found in Foucault’s work. I therefore recommend it to all those who, after years of debate about freedom in Foucault’s work, long for the clarity and structure that gives the evening lecture its title. My own, anti-anarchist and institutionalist reading is also becoming clear, of course.


How can freedom and resistance be conceived within Foucault’s theory of power and subjectivation? This central question of the interpretation of Foucault’s multi-layered work has been widely discussed and yet not satisfactorily answered. The fact that until today there has been little clarity about the status of freedom in Foucault’s work is also due to the fact that the current interpretations confuse the various concepts of freedom which can be found in Foucault’s work. The article therefore brings order to this confusing situation by differentiating the various concepts and problems of freedom in Foucault’s work. This enables a better understanding of Foucault’s thinking of freedom and his theory of power and leads to a new concept of freedom: freedom as the capability to critically reflect on one’s own subjectivation. Because this “freedom as critique” can only be made possible by political institutions, this concept of freedom produces new connections from Foucault’s thinking to normative political theory and post-fundamentalist democratic theory.

Cite and download

Schubert, Karsten (2020): Freiheit und Institution. Für eine anti-anarchistische Foucault-Lektüre. In: Zeitschrift für Politische Theorie 10 (1/2019), 103–124. Final Manuscript
Feel free to contact me for access to the published version.

Freiheit als Kritik - The Monograph

Freiheit als Kritik Schubert, Karsten (2018): Freiheit als Kritik. Sozialphilosophie nach Foucault. Bielefeld: transcript.

Freedom as Critique. Social Philosophy After Foucault

Book's Website


“The great strength and relevance, from the perspective of historical theory, lies above all in the fact that this opens up space for a new debate on governmentality, which should be theoretically advanced again after an upswing at the turn of the millennium and empirical studies that have since applied the concept.
Daniel Albrecht: Review of: Schubert, Karsten: Freiheit als Kritik. Sozialphilosophie nach Foucault. Bielefeld 2018 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 15.04.2019,

“The author succeeds in demonstrating the significance of Foucault’s thought of freedom for the theory of democracy and the general social-philosophical debate.” Helmut Reinalter, Journal for International Freemason Research, 42/43 (2019/20)

“Schubert’s merit with this study lies undoubtedly in the systematic analysis of this debate on freedom in Foucault’s work.”
Jana Licht: Online reviews of the Yearbook of Research on Liberalism 2/2018, Karsten Schubert: Freedom as Criticism. Social Philosophy according to Foucault. Bielefeld: transcript, 2018, 357 p., ISBN: 978-3-8376-4317-6,

Janina Ruhnau: Review. Karsten Schubert: Freiheit als Kritik. Sozialphilosophie nach Foucault Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, in: BEHEMOTH A Journal on Civilisation 2018 Volume 11 Issue No. 2,

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