What Can Erving Goffman Teach Us About “Privacy”

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4 Responses

  1. Danielle Citron says:

    Privacy scholars from law and other disciples have long leveraged Goffman’s work to that end. So too my favorite legal scholars have provided a deep theoretical account or privacy as essential to group interactions and trust. I’m thinking of Lior Strahelivitz’s Social Network Theory of Privacy, the many pieces by Dan Solove and Neil Richards on breach of confidence law, and Julie Cohen’s work in the Configured Network Self, among many others. I’m looking forward to seeing how you build on their work or distinguish yours. Thanks for posting!


  2. Frank says:

    Again, very enlightening. I think this says far more about the values and concerns implicated by the common understanding of privacy than economic models of optimized self-disclosure.

    The challenge, I think, is to consider the bounds of this theory with respect to internet privacy. It fits perfectly for cases of overexposure and harassment online. I can see it also helping us to understand Ryan Calo’s and Neil Richards’s concerns about “persuasion” as a menace to integrity. I don’t know if it fits Dan Solove’s “Kafka” critique of big data processing. But perhaps in a future where there is more pervasive access to such data (along hte lines of Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story) it fits there, too.

  3. Emma D. says:

    I found this discussion of privacy fascinating. I was intrigued by the concept of the on stage/back stage metaphor. It made me think about how such a metaphor might translate to the realm of digital privacy. I think it is possible that, using the terminology of the example, when using the internet people feel as though they are on stage, while simultaneously maintaining the anonymity to act in ways that would normally only be acceptable backstage. I see the complexities of the digital world as almost removing the curtain or division between what happens on and off stage. I feel that this is especially true of the internet, which is often the venue for choices made in this behavioral grey area.

  4. Fhalyshia says:

    I was completely unfamiliar with Goffman before your posts,so reading about his studies of social interaction and the theatrical metaphor he applied to them is extremely interesting to me. The distinction of ‘back stage’ and ‘front stage’ settings is wonderfully concise way of viewing the societal facades that people wear, regardless of how minute or grand they actually are. That he includes the idea that these two stages are separated by a kind of curtain or passageway seemed to me to be representational of information flow and how it is accessed.
    I also found the duty of civil inattention to be very fascinating, as I feel that “privacy-as-trust and discretion” could be applicable to the ways in which some experts are looking at the control of internet privacy. “Creating a path for interaction” reminded me slightly of Helen Nissenbaum’s view on internet privacy and security, in that there needs to be a general code of conduct for the was in which privacy in handled among internet providers and users.