Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Having taken some time out to consult my current notes and research I came to the conclusion that there are three areas that still need more development before I will begin writing out my Interdisciplinary Review. I need to; gain an understanding of globalisation, find a stronger core-text discussing Politics and find a more comprehensive examination of Facebook. For this week’s post I will discuss my readings on globalisation and the remaining topics will be discussed in the order above in the subsequent weeks to come.
The No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization – Wayne Ellwood
This book provides a great overview of the basic notions involved in globalisation and global politics. Though the book does take a somewhat biased view (the author clearly has some anti-globalisation sentiments) the text is easily understandable and details much of the impact and direction of globalisation through recent history. It is written essentially as an American counterpart to the “Very Short Introductions” discussed previously.
Two notions in particular struck me as applicable to discussions of social networking. Firstly, Ellwood notes that the process of globalisation has changed over time. Means of travel, trade, and interaction (languages) have changed dramatically even in recent years and this has greatly modified the way in which globalisation takes place. There are some parallels between this idea and how social networking has integrated with peoples lives. Where previously computers were the terminal of access to your social network now phones, games consoles and various other extraneous devices such as cameras all provide similar or alternative means to access this network. Just as we see the process of globalisation changed by the advances in communication we may expect similar implication for the rates and direction of expansion seen in social networks as our interactions with these networks change. Before discussing the second point I will introduce the second book I have consulted on the topic of globalisation:
Globalization- A Basic Text – George Ritzer
This book provides a significantly more detailed approach to globalisation however, one recurring theme becomes apparent that is seen in both Ellwood and Ritzer’s books and across the topics of discussion within the context of globalisation: control.
Globalisation can be argued to be a positive tool of expansion but this also often results in restrictions being imposed on those that live beneath its shadow. Examples such as the “Tobin Tax”, a tariff charge used to impose restrictions on the flow of wealth between globalised and globalising peoples. Though originally intended to protect the interest of citizens this can also have negative effects by impinging on people ability to interact freely or restricting the ways in which they interact to only those interactions deemed “acceptable”. This theme is seen throughout discussions of globalisation particularly involving issues like imperialism. To what extent do emerging global powers control the restrict the development of global culture by imposing their own norms upon others? Does such a trend exist in social networks with popular networks buying up smaller ventures before they can compete or by forcing users to become dependant on their structure by tying multiple online identities to a single social network user account? Are these kinds of effects deliberate or the natural outcome of expansion? Do networks impose restrictions on each others use just as nations states do on their citizens?
Whilst globalisation provides one useful area of discussion within the context of politics I still feel that I need a stronger political text to support my discussion of the topic. The next post to come will be a discussion of this text.
This week I took a step back from the disciplines I have been studying and approached some literature on social media. My intention was not to become a social media expert but instead to approach the topic from the perspective of both sociology and politics. I read from one more technical textbook which examined both the structural nature and impact of networks within society; The Network Society by van Dijk, and one more narratively structured book centring on the beginnings, development and impact of the social media giant Facebook; The Facebook Effect by Kirkpatrick. Though both disciplines have a lot to say about each of the books I felt that certain topics and certain disciplines lent themselves well to providing comment on particular issues.
Structure and Sociology
The network society starts as a technically focused book and develops into an interesting sociological account of the impact of networks on everything from economics to social policy. With particular relation to the topics of social networking are the discussions of culture and psychology.
The book outlines a variety of perspectives on the cultural impact of networks and social media. This raises a common theme from the sociological literature with regards to technological v.s. social determinism i.e. whether peoples ‘use’ or technologies ‘structure’ and ‘purpose’ (if we take it to have explicit purpose) drives network development.
Equally, further points can be made with regard to the nature of modernity and social media; each country and even culture modernising at different rates and in different ways. It is not necessarily clear from the text how these interactions of different varieties of social media and/or what we might call the interaction of more ‘developed’ systems/networks have within the context of society. There is plenty of opportunity for interdisciplinarity here with both the social and political nature of Marxism offering some critiques within this context; in particular Weberian Neo-Marxism and it’s perspectivism.
Narrative and Politics
The Facebook effect documents the history of the site and it’s now famous owners. It would be impossible not to draw similarities between the formative processes which the site underwent and politics at large. Whether it be the questionable tactics used to obtain user informations paralleled with government spying for the “greater good” or the internal struggles between the site owners paralleled with every internal political dispute ever; the story of Facebook is undoubtedly one rife with politics. As is the case within the political discipline, Kirkpatrick does a fantastic job of historically recounting these ‘political’ struggles and disagreements even without explicit intention (though perhaps a little editorialised).
But, the book highlights an important feature of social networks and of politics often ignored on both accounts: politics (and Facebook) is not just about the relationship between those at the top and those at the bottom but with every individual at each level and everyone else. This of course provides substantial room for the discussion of the sociological factors that govern such complex interpersonal relationships.
Having reached this point in my reading I feel that I have a reasonable understanding of the basics of each discipline along with the topic I have chosen. My intention for the coming week is to return to my notes first and plan some aspects of my accounts of each discipline. When this process is complete the areas I find to be lacking in depth shall be the ones that are the subject of my further reading to come.
This week’s reading was somewhat disappointing. I had intended to get through more content however I found that much of what I was reading required a much deeper level of analysis to understand. For this reason, rather than exploring social networks or globalisation; I have focused more heavily on sociology and in particular one of the most famous thinkers to have influence the field: Karl Marx.
Both for Politics and for Sociology, Marx is held in very high regard. Despite how authors feel about the validity of Marx’s views; it is quite clear that most, if not all, commenter’s extend a degree of respect for the man regarding him as a thought leader both in his own time and beyond. Whilst I would have preferred a broader week of reading, the fact that Marx and Marxist theory exists so prominently both in sociology and politics I did not begrudge the topic the extra time I afforded it. I consulted two texts in particular.
This book offered a good introduction to Marx as a whole, in terms of both his contribution to politics and sociology. The thrust of the argument presented in this text is that Marx’s key contribution was his critique of the political economy. The author presents the case that whilst this was recognised to varying extents in politics and economics; sociological perspectives took longer to entwine themselves with Marxist viewpoints.
On reason for the eventually large scale adoption of Marxist theory within sociology is suggested to pertain to Marx’s views on materialism, in particular; Historical Materialism. The perspective argued that whilst history might have previously separated notions of personhood from thingness, history rather required a deeper account of interactions. For example, dissecting the “things” called institutions into the individual “people” they were made of. This view offers significant importance for sociology allowing far deeper consideration of the people that were previously amorphous entities. Many comparisons can be drawn between these notions and social networking. Not least because of the changing relationships such sites have had with their user bases over time but also at the level of individual users with the structural changes from simple lists of activity to Facebook’s features like “Timeline”. These most certainly can be argued to personalise “events” allowing them to become related much more closely to the individual they are associated with.
This book provided a good logical point of development for explaining the development of Marxist sociological theory. In particular it dealt with the ways in which Marxist theory has been modified or adjusted in what has been argued is a necessary process of modernisation.
This notion of modernisation does not reflect technological or social advancement explicitly but rather the sociological ideas about “modernity”. As before, this is essentially the view that different cultures/societies have modernised differently leading to “multiple modernities”. The author highlights that sociologists like Anthony Giddens have argued that modernity changes the social structure and as such requires a post-modern sociology. The means that only theories that account for such changes, only post-modern theories, are sometimes argued to be the only theories relevant to assessments of the modern world. This text’s author however, believes that Marxism exploits a loophole in this argument by way of the additional work done by one Max Weber.
The author argues that Max Weber’s neo-marxism, in particular the addition of Nietzsche’s perspectivism, is the key to incorporating Marxist theory into discussions of “modern” society. Perspectivism is the theory that the acquisition of knowledge is inevitably limited by the perspective from which it is viewed. This is infact a common view within sociology and has significant relevance to the nature of accounts of social networks. Does a persons experience of myspace or facebook vary if they are a “user”, a “business”, a “celebrity”, a “moderator”, a “site owner” and so on. When considered alongside political perspectives this is of course still deeply relevant. The nature of both a person’s position/perspective, the role that position/perspective implies and the power (or lack of power) that it entails all contribute the nature of the interactions they will experience.
For my reading this coming week it is my intention to focus on texts relating to social media. In particular The Network Society.
In the previous week I listed several books on politics I was considering as reading for introductory texts. Having looked into each of these; I found they were either very dense in their content or too specific in their details to give a broad enough introduction. Having re-examined recommended pre-reading and undergraduate introductory texts I came across the Routledge “Very Short Introductions” books and the recommendation of one university of the “Very Short Introduction to Politics”.
My initial reading of this text has prompted my decision to change my topic of discussion from “cryptography” to “citizenry on social media”. Having decided on Politics as my topic area over Politics Science; this offers the ability to make a variety of historical comparisons and contrast the developments of states and their relationships with their citizens against the development of social media sites and their relationships with users.
The book gave a relatively detailed account of the varieties of social organisation that have been implemented throughout history ranging from ancient despotism and feudalism to modern dictatorships and democracies. There are clear distinctions to be drawn between different components of these organisations and the emergence of social media. However, it is interesting how the development of end-user agreements and the rights that they hold/with-hold have mirrored some aspect of the development of many political histories.
Not wishing to miss out on a greater level of factual content I also completed readings of “Very Short Introductions” to “Democracy” and “Communism” and intend to look briefly at “Socialism”, “Human Rights” and “The United Nations” to bolster my contextual knowledge. I have also looked into the further reading of undergraduate texts on globalisation with a view to contrasting the interaction and relationships of states with the interactions between and relationships of users with different social media sites.
This week I have also completed notes on the topics of:
The Chicago School of Sociology
Critical Theory and
I will be looking to do some study on the nature of social media this coming week along with developing my knowledge of “modernity” in sociology with a particular focus on the nature of Post-Modernism.
PRIVACY – Politics and Psychology (Blog Post 7)
Unfortunately my reading this week has been rather limited due to other work commitments and so for my politics research I have just read an article on the political philosophy of John Locke, in a return to the fundamental ideas and principles that have influenced political development: A Tuckness (2010) – Locke’s Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy).
John Locke (1632-1704) is particularly influential within the context of this research as he presented political ideologies in relation to the issue of privacy. Locke purported a rather radical conception of political philosophy deduced from the principle of self-ownership and the collar right to own property. This is also based on Locke’s famous statement that a man earns ownership over a resource when he mixes his labour with it. He argued that Government should be limited to securing the life and property of its citizens and it is only necessary when problems occur that would make lives more insecure. Locke’s work – Two Treatises of Government in 1690 was a direct counter-argument to Thomas Hobbs’ Leviathan, in which Hobbes argues in favour of absolutist Government to prevent people from abusing property and privacy. Whilst The Second Treatise of Government is still influential today which has helped shape political philosophy and formed the basis for political doctrines such as The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. It places sovereignty into the hands of society. His fundamental argument is that people are equal and invested with natural rights in a state of nature in which they live free from outside rule. Individuals can change some of their natural rights to enter into society with other people, and be protected by common laws and a common executive power to enforce the laws, having executive power to protect their property and defend their liberty. The civil state is bound to its people, and has power over the people only insofar as it exists to protect and preserve their welfare. Thus citizens have the right to dissolve their government, if that government ceases to work solely in their best interest. The government has no sovereignty of its own–it exists to serve the people. Locke sees personal liberty as the key factor of a society that works toward the individual’s and the state’s best interest.
For psychology I have collated the previous readings in order to attempt to provide answers for some questions that have arisen through the research. Such as within behaviour privacy is an important aspect, but is it important as an overall issue within psychology. I have identified that the areas within psychology that are most closely associated with privacy are self and identity however there are other aspect which can be associated such as: Social psychology, Industrial/ organizational psychology, and environmental psychology. Ellen Berscheid (1977) stated that social psychologists have studied many topics that address privacy-related issues “but which are often overlooked as privacy related.” She included social facilitation, attitude formation and change, social influence, deindividuation, and social comparison processes, among other topics. I am also of the opinion that deception and disclosure could be linked to this area. In particular the latter has been linked to privacy for nearly 30 years. (e.g., Derlega & Chaiken, 1977; Derlega, Metts, Petronio, & Margulis, 1993). Bella DePaulo et al, 2003) and Andy Johnson (1974) have made persuasive cases, respectively, for linking privacy and deception and privacy and psychological control.
Next week I intend to do further reading into the areas of democracy and behaviour.
PRIVACY – Politics and Psychology (Blog Post 6)
This week I have been reading about the modern psychologists and the two main schools of though. I have been focusing on the cognitive revolution that occurred within psychology, from previous books that I have been reading over the weeks. The founding fathers of this epistemology are:-
- Wilheim Wundt who is mainly associated with structuralism, which was the first main school of thought within psychology. It involves the structure of the mind built from the elements of consciousness- thus encompassing ideas and sensations.
- Herman Ebbinghaus who purported the empirical approach of memory and the process of learning and forgetting.
- William James (1842 -1910) and James Angell (1869-1949) who are linked with functionalism which deals with the components of consciousness – including ideas and sensations. It is concerned with the process of conscious activity and perceiving and learning. It has biological significance in that it functions are natural processes.
- Charles Darwin (1809 -1882) – Theory of evolution and the ‘Origin of the species by means of natural selection’ (1859). This theory revolutionised biology with its concept of natural selection. Thus the consequences of an animal’s characteristics affect the animal’s ability to survive.
- Edward Thorndike (1874 – 1949) – ‘Law of effect’: Consequences of a behaviour act back upon the organism, affecting the likelihood that the behaviour that occurred previously will take place again.
I have also continued my reading into self –presentation, which although initially considered to be a topic of secondary importance in social psychology; has had notable interest afforded to it in recent years and as such provides invaluable information to my research. It is worth noting that successful self-presentation is usually dependant on the individual conducting accurate assessment of the impact of their behaviour on others and also on others impressions of them. Furthermore self-presentation is a function of both the person and the situation. The kinds of impressions people try to convey are guided by the individual’s motives and personality as well as the immediate social setting.
Within my politics reading I have encountered different topics which apply to governments on a global scale. Hence I am continuing to read about globalization. This week I have been reading The Globalization of World Polkitics – an introduction to international relations (2nd ed.) – John Bayliss and Steve Smith. I found this textbook particularly useful as is helped me to question certain aspects of globalization rather than just accept information that I’ve been discovering. Firstly is globalization a new phenomenon / phase within world politics rather than just a continuing long – term feature of a long – established process. There are also many theories than can directly contribute to the explanation of globalization:-
- Modernisation (Madelski, 1972; Morse 1976)
- Economic growth (Walt Rostow, 1960)
- Economic Interdependence (Cooper, 1968)
- Global Village (Marshall Mcluhan, 1964)
- World Society (John Burton, 1972)
- World Order Models Project (1968)
- International Society (Hedley Bull, 1977)
- End of History (Francis Fukuyama, 1992)
- Liberal Peace Theory (Bruce Russett, 1993; Michael Doyle, 1983)
Regarding the latter theory, this is based on the notion that liberal democracies do not fight one another. This is exampled by no cases where democracies have gone to war. Due to the fact that public accountability is so central within democratic systems, publics will not allow their governments to engage in wars with democratic nations.
I have also started reading into theories of world politics and have started with realism which is considered to be the dominant theory of international relations. It provides the strongest explanation for the state of war (determined as the general condition of life in the international system by the realists). Realists also argue that the basic structure of international politics is one of anarchy in that each of the independent sovereign states consider themselves to be their own highest authority and do not recognise a higher power above them. Therefore domestic politics is often described as a hierarchic structure in which different political actors stand in super and subordination.
PRIVACY (Politics & Psychology) – Blog post 5
As my previous readings within Politics have led me to identify the areas of globalization and security as paramount in relation to the issue of privacy I have extended my reading to specific books focusing on this concepts.
Globalisation, Competitiveness and Human Security (1997) – Cristobal Kay ,states that globalisation can include political negotiations, cultural trends and increased internationalisation of economic activities. It is also the process whereby enterprises become interdependent and interlinked globally via strategic allegiances and international networks. The book discusses changes occurring on a global level. Such changes are beyond the influence and henceforth the control of any individual person, community or even the government. It is therefore logical to link these dynamics to society experiencing feelings of insecurity over many related issues, including that of loss of privacy. After the end of the Cold War in 1989, which was predominantly viewed as a positive outcome as it reduced the fear of global military conflict which would have threatened peace and security, many political and economical reforms were instigated within developing countries and at the global level there was an overwhelming sense of security due to the dissolution of the threat of nuclear war. However it has been purported that there are new specific threats to human security, many of which have international or global dimensions as their root causes can be traced to events and processes occurring outside of their territories, namely globalisation and competitiveness. The UNDP (1994):23 produced a list which delineates all aspects of human security; on that list under political security was violation of human rights – privacy connotations. The implication is that globalisation and competiveness can be directly attributable to human development and to reduce people’s insecurities.
Globalization and insecurity – political, economic and physical challenges (2002) – Barbara Harriss-White, gave the definition of insecurity as ‘unsafe or unreliable’ and determined that there are four areas of physical insecurity which are interrelated:
- Threats to persons, property and/or environments
- Economic and political autonomy of states
- Instability, particularly of market
- Vulnerability – a susceptibility to damage, closely but not completely aligned with poverty and inequality
This book also discusses globalization as a political process, whereby the main forces producing it have moved away from industry and weapon production towards instead, technology, information and communications, and financial control of everything else. It is suggested that it is the political project that causes insecurity via poverty, regulation of health and the reworking of national politics.
For the psychology part of my independent disciplinary review this week I have been reading : Self – Presentation Impression Management and Interpersonal Behaviour (1995) – Mark R. Leary. Self-presentation deals with the ways in which human behaviour is affected by people’s concerns with their public impressions. The norm would be that individuals would prefer that others perceive them in a flattering light rather than in an undesirable manner. Thus people may act in a certain way in order to make an impression on someone e.g. the job applicant in an interview. It is determined that generally people’s concerns with others’ impressions constrain their behavioural options and so individuals would be reluctant to conduct acts which would be seen as morally/ socially reprehensible in public. This is not necessarily negative though as a world where no-one cares about the opinions of others would be far more detrimental. Consider people saying or doing anything without considering the feelings of others etc. However it is possible for people to be too concerned with what others think about them which can lead to feelings of insecurity building up. The book also discusses the differences between exaggerations and lies in relation to the fact that individuals are multi – faceted and can therefore convey many different aspects of their characters, the majority of which may be genuinely true attributes, depending on the circumstances. Thus rather than lying per se, people may select the images they want others to form from their repertoire of true-self images.
There are two prevalent thinkers in relation to self-presentation: Erving Goffman who was a sociologist and wrote ‘The presentation of self in everyday life’ (1959) in which he determined that much can be gained by focusing on public behaviour, and Edward Jones (1990) ‘The study of impression’, in which he discussed management and self – presentation being an integral part of the study of interpersonal perception as it is not possible to fathom how people view each other without knowing the dynamic to self-presentation at the same time.
I will be continuing my reading further into these areas within my two disciplines as I feel that there is far more valuable information to be obtained towards the overall research.
PRIVACY (Politics & Psychology) – Blog post 4
Now that I feel that I have established some grounding for myself within the subjects, this week I have resumed reading more into areas of politics and psychology that can be directly applied to the issue of privacy, which I am investigating.
Regarding politics, I have been reading ‘Contemporary Political Philosophy’ by Will Kymlicka. It was interesting to discover that dating back to key founding factors which led to Western civilisation, the dilemma of privacy rights versus public accessibility were clearly evident. Plato in his ‘republic’ predicted a society where the offspring of the ruling class would be educated in common and as such segregated from the normal family life. Envisaged as the ideal city – the kallipolis was made up of both men and women who, if they possessed the same assets, would receive the same education and have the same access to careers; with no emphasis on who would be the homemaker and child-carer in those circumstances. The implication is that both the feminine aspect of intimacy and the masculine virtue of honour should share equal importance if both genders have equal treatment, however Plato was actually scornful of emotional closeness and instead presumed that honour was all-important and that anyone regardless of their sex, would want to obtain it. This hegemony of males in the kallipolis has all the makings of totalitarianism (the annihilation of the private sector as in George Orwell’s 1984). Furthermore Aristotle’s ‘politics’ offers a contemporary distinction between the private family life and that of the ‘polis’, the democratic decision-making forum which voiced all the citizens’ voices. However, Aristotle thought that the private domain was dull and of no interest i.e. stagnant household governance; whilst the ‘polis’ was enlightening. This preference for public over private is preserved within etymology. The word private is attributable to the Latin ‘privare’ which means to deprive, thus the notion of privacy for the majority of classical thinkers was linked to deprivation rather than voluntary withdrawing. These epistemologies have led me to start comparing principles such as Totalitarianism vs. Democracy and Self-Determination which I will research further into next week along with further reading into more contemporary issues such as security and globalization.
For the psychology part of my study I have been fortunate enough to obtain a recommended core text book from an Undergraduate psychology student. ‘Psychology’ by Martin, Carlson and Buskist. For all my previous psychology reading this book achieved the previously impossible! It provided me with a definitive definition of what is psychology. Therefore If I am to understand that psychology is ‘the science of behaviour’, literally interpreted as ‘the science of the mind’, it encompasses behaviour which can be directly observed and behavioural characteristics can be utilised within principles and theories to explain individual actions. Returning to the area of social psychology, in particular ‘self’ and ‘identity’, social psychologists are of the belief that people have many different selves in relation to different situations. Markus and Nurius (1986) determine that ‘selves not only describe how we are, but how we would like to be, called possible selves.’ The ‘self- discrepancy theory’ by Higgins (1987) distinguishes between ‘the actual self’ – how one really is, ‘the ideal self’ – how one would like to be and ‘the ought self’ – how one thinks they should be. Thus the first two are types of ‘self-guides’ which encourage a variety of self-related behaviours, whilst the latter engages ‘prevention’ behaviour in that we would strive to abstain from doing what may be frowned upon by society. In Sedikides, C. ‘The Self’, the theory of ‘the looking glass’ is purported (Goffman 1959) in which ‘people actively attempt to create desired impressions or appraisals of themselves in the minds of the social audience’. In accordance with this, Shrauger and Schoeneman (1979) determined that people ‘see through the glass darkly’ – individuals perceive themselves on what or how they think others see them rather than on how others actually see them. Robson & Harter (1991) also provided a theory about ‘self-worth’ being based on peer-pressure. Next week I will continue reading other seminal theories of psychological behaviour and ‘self and ‘identity’.
I have also read the journal recommended to me by Olivier -Newell, P. B. (1995). Perspectives on privacy. Journal of Environmental psychology, 15(2), 87-104. It provides an excellent review of the psychological literature on privacy and within it limits of all different conceptions about privacy in psychology are listed and explained in great detail.
I am also reading ‘The Second Self’ by Sherry Turkle. This book deals with psychology of computing and it is particularly insightful into how computers affect individuals’ relationships, how they perceive themselves and society in general. First published in 1984, it provides a historical account of computing behaviour but also can be applied to contemporary issues and development over the past two decades. I am mindful though, of not going off on a tangent about privacy and technology at this juncture and I am reading this in order to make a link between my issue and the Web within my final report.
PRIVACY (Politics & Psychology) – Blog post 3
So continuing on with my reading into two unfamiliar disciplines, it occurred to me this week that perhaps I may have been ‘jumping the gun’ somewhat by pre-empting the key areas within politics and psychology in relation to the issue of privacy, without obtaining a basic knowledge of what these two subjects are concerned with. Thus I have taken a step back from looking at the areas of ‘self’ within psychology and ‘security’ within politics and decided to read more about the basic underlying principles of each discipline instead.
For psychology I have been reading a number of books in order to gain an insight into the founding psychologists and the theories they presented. In particular I have found the following helpful:
Psychology – Carlson, Martin & Buskist (2004)
Psychology: an integrated approach – Eysenck (1998)
Approaches to Psychology 2nd ed. – Glassman (1995)
Beginning at the philosophical roots of psychology, I have been acquiring information about different theories and who conceived them, such as: Rene Descarts (1596-1650) – Dualism (the belief that it is possible that all reality can be divided into two separate identities: mind & matter), John Locke (1632-1704) – Empiricism (the pursuit of truth through observation and experience), David Hume (1711-1776) – Positivism (the concept that all meaningful ideas can be defined by observable material) and Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) – Idealism (the belief that knowledge of events in the world are not purely obtained from direct experience rather that knowledge is the outcome of inferences based on the accumulation of past experiences derived via the senses. Perhaps the most productive way to utilise all these concepts would be to correlate them and use them in a manner whereby they complement each other as it seems obvious to me that they all have basic similarities in that they are all concerned with the workings of the mind and the way in which individuals acquire knowledge.
Regarding politics, I have conducted similar research into the development of political ideologies and key theorists and resumed my reading of Political Thinkers: from Socrates to the present – David Boucher & Paul Kelly (2003). From here I have identified a number of important and influential schools of thought. Starting with the The Sophists, whose key ideas included moral and political issues and accepted a group way of thought such as justice being essential to society but also being beneficial to the individual, democracy being limited and justice being perceived as a convention as opposed to nature, which brings pleasure; law is unable to uphold justice thus it is better to be unjust wherever possible (Protagoras, Thrasymachus & Antiphon). Following on from the Sophists were the great thinkers Socrates (Elenchus – questions and answers leading to ignorance being admitted; Virtue – the basis of knowledge in conjunction with other virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice; Daimonion – the ‘inner voice’ which opposes active participation in politics; Techne – arts and crafts used as analogies for the basis of civil obedience) Plato (Forms – non- dynamic objects which are accessible to the mind but not the senses, providing reputable standards for good judgement and knowledge) and Aristotle (Human Nature – humans are social and political animas and in order to live a full life, require harmonious fellowship with others in a community) who collectively redefined a stronger case for justice. Already I am discovering that some theories have an underlying theme of human perception and also behaviour seems inherent as a recurrent theme.
The more I read into these two disciplines the more I am assuming that there may be some overlapping theories and concepts which can be applied to the issue of privacy and as such privacy on the Web. However I do not want to be too presumptuous or have too many pre-conceived notions without any evidence!
This past week I have continued to read further into my two disciplines of Psychology and Politics and how they relate to the issue of Privacy. For Psychology I have largely focused on the ‘Handbook of Self and Identity’ in order to gain more of an understanding of the psychological phenomena that constitutes ‘the self’. I was rather surprised to discover that this notion has only really been in prominence since the 1970′s and yet it is an issue that was given recognition Millenia ago by infamous thinkers such as Plato and Buddha! However it is noted that when attempting to determine the meaning of ‘self’ there is no single, universally accepted definition and that amongst the numerous definitions that have been offered, different definitions relate to different phenomena.
In accordance with the area of ‘self’ there is the notion of ‘the reflected self’ whereby an individual adjusts how their behaviour appears to others. The chapter: ‘The Reflected Self: Creating yourself as (you think) others see you by Dianne M. Tice and Harry M. Wallace is especially insightful and informative in this area. They explore the idea provided by C.H Cooley (1902), that the ‘self’ develops in reference to others within the social environment; ties in with the concept that it is created by reflecting the views that others are perceived to have of that person. The theory of ‘the looking glass’ is also imperative in this study.
Already referred to in my previous Blog. I have decided to start my initial investigation into Politics and potential political theories and policies which may be privacy related; by looking at security matters. For this I have been reading ‘Contemporary Security Studies’. Firstly I have tried to establish what is security. A simplistic definition is ‘something to do with threats to survival’, however this encompasses a wealth of issues ranging from war and the threat of war to pandemics and terrorism. Particular theories that are appearing relevant at this juncture are Realism and Liberalism: traditional approaches which were the main focus for security studies during the 19th Century, Human Security: which focuses on the need for humans to feel secure and Securitization which was developed by the Copenhagen School’: which places primary importance on determining how an issue becomes that of a security issue by how it is articulated for e.g. something may become a security issue due to the fact political leaders and or Governments have convinced their audiences that it represents a threat to our existence and thus requires emergency powers.
I am also reading books about privacy in light of technological advances and I am currently halfway through ‘Blown to Bits’ and once I have finished with that I have ‘The Digital Person’ by Daniel J. Solove. Thanks to Olivier I also have Journal articles relating to privacy to peruse too, so I have plenty of information to digest over the next week…….