What structures of power are involved in governing societies and how are they connected? How is the liberal idea of governing through freedom linked to the increasing control of marginalised populations? Have we reached the end of history in which governing largely concerns self-governing individuals, networks and communities? Should we dispense with the 'container view of society' and contemplate the 'death of the social'? Today, many people in academia, politics and business, question the idea of being able to govern society. The nation state and sovereign government are displaced by globalization and individualization. Mitchell Dean focuses on `governing societies' as a distinctive project that continues to define political life today. The book offers a critical analysis of contemporary liberal approaches to governing societies both in domestic and international affairs. Governing Societies provides an overview of current perspectives and theories and examines recent transformations in techniques and rationalities of rule. It presents a new argument for the importance and transformation of sovereignty and powers of life and death and how they are integral to governing liberal-democratic societies. The book is key reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students of sociology and politics, as well as researchers and academics.