Foucault, counter-conduct, austerity, medical cards
On the 14th of October, 2008, the then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, announced
that government intended to withdraw automatic entitlement to medical cards for
those over 70.2 Introduced in 2001 the over-70s medical card was one of a small
minority of universal health benefits but it would now become conditional on a means test. This paper focuses on public reaction to Lenihan’s announcement. His budget
proposal inspired the Older People’s Uprising, Ireland’s first demonstration of
popular resistance to austerity, now remembered as an effective if untypical
expression of people or pensioner power.
This paper presents the Uprising as an example of what Foucault (2007) dubs
‘counter-conduct’, through which subjects resist governmental forms of power.
Here government is understood in the Foucauldian sense to mean ‘the conduct of