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Negotiating privacy in surveillant welfare relations

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The Danish welfare system is dependent on surveillance practices. Health authorities screen for diseases, tax authorities surveil financial flows, and social services are surveillant to vulnerable families. Such state surveillance is often related to, and opposed to, the privacy of citizens. However, while privacy is central to debates of surveillance, it has proven less productive as an analytical resource for studying surveillance in practice. Consequently, this paper reviews different conceptualisations of privacy in relation to welfare and surveillance and argues for strengthening the analytical capacity of the concept by rendering it a situated and relational concept. The argument is developed through a research and design project called Teledialogue meant to improve the relation between case managers and children placed at institutions or in foster families. Privacy in Teledialogue is not an individual possession but rather negotiated in numerous, shifting relations. From this outset, two points are made: that privacy is overtaken by others than the individual, and that the negotiation of privacy also entails the negotiation of autonomy. In the end, implications of a situated and relational notion of privacy are discussed in relation to both research- and public debates on surveillance in a welfare setting.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year21 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016
EventThe 7th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 21 Apr 201623 Apr 2016
Conference number: 7


ConferenceThe 7th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference
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