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Re-Thinking Privacy for the Physical and Digital World: Reformulating Our Theoretical Foundations
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Media and Communication Studies.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

When scholars address privacy as a condition in contemporary society it can become a very difficult subject to approach on a general level. With public concerns rising surrounding matters of digital tracking and surveillance, discussions of privacy have found a new dimension in digital information. Yet defining how digital privacy should be approached, in particular regard to a general conception of privacy, remains unclear. Research spanning across the social sciences, law, economics and technical fields have all taken their own perspectives towards studying various forms of privacy. This study seeks to unify privacy- related discourses by evaluating the conceptualization of privacy throughout existing literature in order to determine what fundamentally distinguishes digital privacy from general privacy while remaining intrinsically related. To do this, I employ Michael E. Brown's 'sub- theoretical notion' (2014) to turn privacy discourses inwards, seeking the underlying logic contained within its seemingly disparate dimensions. Using a sample of 28 purposively selected texts analyzed through a structural content analysis, resulting in a refined sample of n=4,486 structural elements contained within the texts, the various relational dynamics of privacy discussions are evaluated, noting their interrelations. I arrive at information tangibility and loci of control as the two most intrinsic elements of privacy, dramatized by developments in technological mediation, which can thus both unify and distinguish the various forms of privacy research. In a discussion of implications of this exploratory study, I conclude with how the integration of privacy's sub-theoretical notion (information tangibility and loci of control) allows for current privacy-related discourses to acknowledge not only their own limitations to social life, but to move beyond the singular notion of a correct conception of privacy to see instead how each conception is interrelated via the unifying logic of the sub- theoretical. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 123 p.
Keyword [en]
privacy, e-commerce, commodification, multidisciplinary, sub-theoretical, advertising, information society, structural content analysis, internet
National Category
Media and Communications Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-242824OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-242824DiVA: diva2:785289
Subject / course
Digital Media
Educational program
Master Programme in Social Sciences
Available from: 2015-02-11 Created: 2015-02-02 Last updated: 2015-02-11Bibliographically approved

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