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Rätten till privatlivet: - och moralen bakom omoralen i svensk press 1920 – 1980
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the development of the notion of the right to privacy in Sweden between 1920 and 1980. The formation of the notion of the right to privacy is studied through the debate concerning exposure of the aspect of privacy that can be considered the most sensitive: the individual’s sex life and intimate relations.

The theoretical framework is based on the sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies’ concepts of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (community and association). The thesis pays particular attention to privacy in relation to the development of the “media society” during the 20th century.

Three significant shifts in the Swedish history of privacy during the 20th century are identified and examined: The boycott of the muck-raking paper Fäderneslandet (“The Fatherland”) in 1927, the introduction of “the sanctity of private life” in the rules of the Swedish Publicists’ Association in 1953 and the appointment of the Integrity Protection Committee in 1966.

Key findings are: The notion of right to privacy in Sweden evolves in four phases: The first phase (1920 – 1953) is characterized by a paradoxical relationship to privacy following the division between “decent” and “indecent”. “Decent people” had the right to a private sphere while “indecent people” were deprived of privacy. After a viscous hunt of homosexuals in the press, in the late 1940’s, the second phase (1953 – 1964) is defined by liberalisation of the decency concept and a more restrictive press policy as regards exposure of private details relating to sexuality.

A modern-day notion of right to privacy is, however, not visible in Sweden until the third phase (1964 – 1975). Yet, the fourth phase (1975 – 1980) is characterised by a backlash. Under the slogan of “the private is political” young radicals and second-wave feminists questioned the privacy concept and saw the right to privacy as a threat to community and equality. Attempts to create privacy legislation in Sweden failed due to unwillingness by the government to recognize the rights of the individual over the rights of the community.

Conflicting notions of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft within society partly explains the shifting status of the right to privacy in Sweden 1920 – 1980.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of History, Uppsala University , 2016. , 410 p.
Keyword [en]
Privacy, Right to Privacy, Media Ethics, Journalism, Media History, History of the Swedish Press
Keyword [sv]
Privatliv, Privatlivets helgd, Pressetik, Journalistik, Publicitetsregler, Presshistoria, Mediehistoria, Svensk press
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-302490ISBN: 978-91-506-2592-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-302490DiVA: diva2:967417
Public defence
2016-10-07, Zootissalen, EBC, Norbyvägen 14-18, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-09-16 Created: 2016-09-05 Last updated: 2016-09-16

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Hessérus, Mattias
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