Privacy (Politics & Psychology) Blog 4   no comments

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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.

Written by Lisa Sugiura on November 16th, 2010

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