The close ties between modes of governing, subjectivities and critique in contemporary societies challenge the role of critical social research. The classical normative ethos of the unmasking researcher unravelling various oppressive structures of dominant vs. dominated groups in society is inadequate when it comes to understand de-politicizing mechanisms and the struggles they bring about. This article argues that only a nonnormative position can stay attentive to the constant and complex evolution of modes of governing and the critical operations actors themselves engage in. The article outlines a non-normative but critical programme based on an ethos of re-politicizing contemporary pervasive modes of governing. The analytical advantages and limitations of such a programme are demonstrated by readings of both Foucauldian studies and the works of and debates regarding the French pragmatic sociology of Boltanski and Thévenot.