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Research Details

Privacy in public: Translating the category of privacy to the digital age


We examine the translation and reformulation of the concept of privacy in the advent of digital communication technologies. We analyze emerging notions of informational privacy in public discourse and policy making in the United States, focusing primarily on the period between 1970 and 2010. Our analysis shows category change to be a dynamic political and cultural process that is only in part about cognitive processes of feature similarity, classification and boundary creation. Conceptions of privacy were tied to alternative orders of worth that first constituted the meaning to the idea of privacy by embedding it in ontologies of value at the institutional level. Those orders offered theories, analogies and vocabularies that could be deployed to extrapolate the concept of privacy into new domains, make sense of new technologies and construct dimensions of similarity, and to contest and shape policy agendas.


Book Chapter


Kartik Bajpai, Klaus Weber

Date Published



Bajpai, Kartik, and Klaus Weber. 2017. Privacy in public: Translating the category of privacy to the digital age.: 223-258.


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