This chapter approaches the concept of depoliticisation from a broadly Foucauldian perspective. It aims to re-conceptualise depoliticisation as central to the rolling out of new forms of power and regulation associated with neo-liberal governmentality. In doing so, our aim is to synergise the available scholarship on neo-liberal governmentality and depoliticisation to formulate an analytical framework which, we believe, offers a more robust understanding of the relationship between politicisation, depoliticisation and contemporary rationalities of government. Hitherto, apart from a couple of exceptions (Foster, 2008; Tosa, 2009; Kerr et al, 2011; Oksala, 2011; Byrne et al, 2012), the literatures on depoliticisation and neo-liberal governmentality have remained distinct from one another despite the fact that they are discussing different aspects of the same political project and therefore work in a complementary fashion.
To demonstrate the synergy between both concepts this chapter is separated as follows. The first two sections discuss some of the potential problems thrown up by the scholarship on depoliticisation (Burnham, 2002, 2007, 2011; Flinders and Buller, 2005, 2006a, 2006b; Flinders, 2008, Hay, 2007; Jenkins, 2010; Kettell, 2008; Wood and Flinders, 2014, 151–70). We argue that the relationship between depoliticisation is often characterised, misleadingly, as producing a contraction of both government and the space within which politics is played out. Sections three and four review the work on neo-liberal governmentality (Lemke, 2001, 2002; Rose, 1996; Rose and Miller,  2010; Rose et al, 2006), and recent chapters which have used the term depoliticisation, to highlight a potential, yet underdeveloped, synergy with the scholarship on governmentality (Oksala, 2011; Tosa, 2009). Section five then attempts, tentatively, to provide a re-conceptualisation of the relationship between politicisation, depoliticisation and neo-liberal governmental rationality, based on a Foucauldian reading of power and contemporary governance. Overall, we argue that depoliticisation creates the ostensible façade of rolling back the state, while governmentality allows the insidious rolling forward of the state's agenda through the buying in (or buying off) of other organisations or the normalising of populations to be good neo-liberal citizens. Thus, the argument presented here is that the guise of ‘rolling back’ the state, bound up in discourses of neo-liberal governance, marks an era whereby state intervention has actually never been so pervasive. However, the pervasion of state intervention is rendered covert through the operation of both depoliticisation and governmentality.