How and why has the concept of responsibility come to pervade the fabric of American public and private life? How are ideas of responsibility instantiated in, and constituted by, the workings of social and political institutions? What place do liberal discourses of responsibility, based on the individual, have in today’s biopolitical world, where responsibility is so often a matter of risk assessment, founded in statistical probabilities?
Bringing together the work of scholars in anthropology, law, literary studies, philosophy, and political theory, the essays in this volume show how state and private bureaucracies play crucial roles in fashioning forms of responsibility, which they then enjoin on populations. How do government and market constitute subjects of responsibility in a culture so enamored of individuality? In what ways can those entities—centrally, in modern culture, those engaged in insuring individuals against loss or harm—themselves be held responsible, and by whom? What kinds of subjectivities are created in this process? Can such subjects be said to be truly responsible, and in what sense?