Governmentality and biopolitics has emerged as a chief source of scholarship and debate within contemporary international relations (IR), particularly among those involved in the sub-disciplines, Critical Security Studies and International Political Sociology. Governmentality, first and foremost, is a term coined by philosopher Michel Foucault, and refers to the way in which the state exercises control over, or governs, the body of its populace. Meanwhile, biopolitics, which was coined by Rudolf Kjellén, is an intersectional field between biology and politics. In contemporary US political science studies, usage of the term biopolitics is mostly divided between a poststructuralist group using the meaning assigned by Michel Foucault (denoting social and political power over life), and another group who uses it to denote studies relating biology and political science. The foci of literatures on governmentality and biopolitics are particularly agreeable to many scholars critical of traditional IR scholarship and its distinct articulation of "world politics." The shifty nature of both concepts, as defined by Michel Foucault and the subsequent use by various scholars, presents challenges to setting any specific account of these terms; yet the blurriness of these concepts is what makes them productive, contrary to the zero-sum, rationalist accounts of power and behavior so central to much of conventional IR.
In traditional power analysis, `the international' is a characteristic of the states system — an anarchic realm, qualitatively different from the domestic. To traditional norms analysis, the international is increasingly a realm of shared value allocation, akin to other political realms. Given this bifurcation in the literature, privileging power incurs the cost of not being able to study systemic change of the international, whereas privileging norms incurs the cost of not being able to study power. We argue that extant conceptualisations of the international hail from Weber via Morgenthau, for whom international politics was an ideal type applied to the realm between states. Building on Mike Williams's work, we perform a new reading of these two scholars. We find that Morgenthau's identification of the political as an ideal-typical sphere has room for social theoretical insights as found in constructivist theory. Indeed, by his own Weberian lights, Morgenthau's specific ideal type of international politics is in need of updating. We try to rise to the challenge by drawing on Michel Foucault's work in order to forge an understanding of the international as governmentality. The result is a conceptualisation of the international as a socially embedded realm of governmentality. It is a structure (defined by relations of power) that generates different and changing practices of political rule (defined as governmental rationality) and agencies (for example, polities).