Sociotechnical Privacy. Mapping the Research Landscape

Carsten Ochs, Petra Ilyes


Abstract: While it is extraordinarily difficult to theoretically specify privacy, in the last 100 years or so (social) psychology, philosophy, communication studies, economics, and, to a lesser degree, also sociology and anthropology, provided attempts to conceptualize its meaning. Be that as it may, from the 1960s onwards privacy discourse has focused upon data, understood as “personal information”, to a certain extent because of the advent of huge databases and information and communication technologies (ICTs). Influential scholarship at the present time tends to conceive of ICT-related privacy in terms of the “sociotechnical”, thus highlighting the interlocking of human and technical agency. Although having developed a manifold of instruments to research sociotechnical phenomena, STS engagement with sociotechnical privacy, so far, has been rather low-key. In our contribution we therefore provide a mapping of the research landscape, identify connecting factors between STS and sociotechnical privacy research, and calling for further STS contributions.

Keywords: Privacy Theory; Sociotechnical Privacy; Quantitative Privacy Research; Qualitative Privacy Research; STS Privacy Research.

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