Arien Mack, Editor
This issue of Social Research is the ninth in our conference series, the mission of which is to foster discussion of matters of grave public interest in light of their often neglected and generally illuminating historical and cultural contexts. The current issue contains edited versions of presentations given at Social Research conference on Privacy in Post-communist Europe, which was held at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary on March 23-24, 2001.
Eastern Europe emerges from a Communist past where everything was officially “public,” privacy was unprotected , and the public sphere was etatized. These features are not systematically discussed in Eastern Europe. The Social Research Privacy conference at Central European University on March 23-24, 2001 helped to clarify certain crucial policy-relevant issues.
The article discusses the expanded exposure of privacy which allow new technologies new invasions into people's private lives. The latest technological advances including personal computers, the Internet, wireless devices and biological engineering radically expanded privacy while simultaneously also allowing for new forms of intrusions into it. However, people have also expanded exposure of privacy which a new form of enjoyment in being overtly concerned that someone is constantly watching and trying to develop new devices to expose their private life to the public.
The article presents a response to the article by Renata Salecl that discusses the exposures of privacy in contemporary culture. She argues that Salecl relies on Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic theory to help the subject cover up for the lack of an identity and masquerade its imaginary subjectivity with various symbolic insignia. She believes that there is more to privacy than mere exclusivity or the legally enforceable interest in the right to be let alone and control the dissemination of information about oneself together with the construction of one's public self.
The article discusses privacy destruction in the pre communist society and postcommunist society. It presents basic rules concerning media attitudes toward the privacy of a community member noted as one of the first post independence problems the post-Soviet media encountered. It infers that privacy destruction helps to prevent social alienation and even partly substitutes for the professional social and psychological assistance that the contemporary Ukrainian state does not supply society with. It contributes considerably to preventing the decline of civic membership serves the purpose of cementing the latter on a basis that private as it could be, at least appears strictly and undeniably human.
The article discusses privacy destruction in the pre communist society and postcommunist society. It presents basic rules concerning media attitudes toward the privacy of a community member noted as one of the first postindependence problems the post-Soviet media encountered. It infers that privacy destruction helps to prevent social alienation and even partly substitutes for the professional social and psychological assistance that the contemporary Ukranian state does not supply society with. It contributes considerably to preventing the decline of civic membership serves the purpose of cementing the latter on a basis that private as it could be, at least appears strictly and undeniably human.
The article discusses the concept of informal public utilized to designate the diversity of state-independent activities and interactions in Soviet society. Informal public life was regulated by the diversity of rules that will be referred to by the term unwritten or common law. If Soviet individuals challenged the habitual code of double morality that would put them on the margins of the system. If they decided to follow officially proclaimed rules and became violators of the major every code which the system could persecute them rigidly. This was especially the case for Soviet human rights activists.
From Opposition in Private to Engagement in Public: Motives for Citizen Participation in the Post-1989 Democracies of Central Europe
The article explores the most important motives behind the rapid diffusion of the practices of democratic participation that manifested themselves immediately after the collapse of the communist regimes in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. It discusses the fault lines of social development that created obstacles for the participation of the poor and the democratic practices in the underground opposition under state socialism. The author believes that the presentation of fundamental conclusions surrounding the concepts of social and economic rights will reveal any further expansion of strengthening of the public domain of the new democracies require serious efforts.
The article questions traditional assumptions and the strategies based on them concerning the nature of state secrecy and its relation to privacy. Secrecy is integral to the nature of state power. It has little to do with political culture and everything to do with the institutionalization of political power in the state over the last 500 years. It concludes that privacy splits individuals into public and private selves. The right to privacy confirms the processes of individualization and commodification which are, ironically, precisely the phenomena to reject in order to achieve the goals set by the right for privacy.
The article presents a reply to the preceding article by Mark Neocleous, which questions traditional assumptions and the strategies based on them concerning the nature of state secrecy and its relation to privacy. The author agrees with the basic statement of Neocleous that privacy splits individuals into public and private selves and the right to privacy confirms the processes of individualization and commodification are precisely the phenomena to reject in order to achieve the goals set by the fight for privacy. However, it has to be decided whether the goal is the destruction of the unavoidable secretive state.
The article examines the issue of whether state intervention can adequately assess the complexity of reproduction. It also examines the possibility of discussing issues of human reproduction within and beyond the legal framework of privacy and the reason why reproductive rights cannot fully be protected by the legal tools of respect to privacy. The direction of state intervention has changed in a drastic manner with legal and social discrimination banned and the right to reproductive health established. The legal regulation of assisted procreation has been inspired by a biomedical terminology that has focused on technologies of treatment and as a consequence the distress of the actual intervention.
The article presents a reply to the article by Judit Sándor regarding privacy in the matter of human reproductive health. She argues that privacy meant by Sándor implicitly refers to women's liberty to act as they want about their reproductive function and that privacy can also allude to the right to oppose oneself to the use of one's body by others. It explains that public-private opposition turns out to be a tool for social and political battles and is often used as a principle of legitimation, able to change the content and signification according to the needs of the battle.
The article examines solutions advanced by four countries in east central Europe that made considerable efforts in harmony with European legal progress and to develop their own data protection laws. Some of these countries have embarked on a slower-paced but organic path of development while others have seen very abrupt changes. However, all share in the effort to narrow the gap between their laws and the principles of the European Union directive. The Czech legislation data protection law was adopted in 1992 which the to have one's personal data protected is also guaranteed by the constitution. Slovakia legislation bears the directive of the European Union.
Public Identity in Defining the Boundaries of Public and Private: The Example of Latent Anti-Semitism
The article presents an example of anti-Semitism that defines the boundaries of public and private to those for whom belonging to one camp or another. It presents the main factor determining whether opinions are hidden or clearly manifested in view of left-and right-wing anti-Semites on freedom to express anti-Jewish feeling and the effects of role expectations on interactions. The main factors determining whether opinions are hidden or clearly manifested is the political and social system mainly through the structure of public realm. On the other hand, some individuals in society hide their opinions because of a refined attempt to seek psychological advantage.
The article presents a reply to the analysis of latent prejudice by András Kovács. The author does not fully share the view of Kovács that the public expression of racial, religious or ethnic prejudice is condemned in Hungary, just as it is in virtually every civilized state in the world. In Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet successor states, consistent condemnation or ostracism of politicians or other public figures because of their racist speech is more the exception than the rule. Rather than challenging or undermining ethnic stereotypes and prejudices, the education system and media in the region frequently reproduce them.
The article asserts that the boundaries of privacy do not coincide with boundaries of being a person and discusses on the dignity of privacy and the philosophy known as German idealism. It explains that law always had a problem linking the private individual characterized by finitude to the permanence of society and at the same time tying social arrangements to nature. Privacy as subjectivity hurts itself at the unchanging public sphere and as its political might, which makes the subject feel inessential or politically irrelevant but still remains free to be herself however, in view of the public realm she is dincreasingly unprotected as long as rebellion is redefined as dissentand has a right to dissent.
The article describes the anonymity on the Internet which is considered as an essential tool for free speech. It also depicts proposals to outlaw anonymity over the Internet since anonymity has been often tied to criminal activity over the Internet by law enforcement bodies. Anonymity is socially valuable and has been a vital tool for the preservation of political speech and discourse throughout history. The concept of anonymity is closely related to free speech and privacy. Internet technology provides anonymous communications and this can be used for several purposes including those that are socially useful and those that are criminal.
The article discusses the freedom of speech and Internet content control. It describes the connection between the judgment on informational privacy and the actual identity of the user and discusses the governance of the Internet. The questions of anonymity, pseudonymity and the various degrees of privacy are connected with the technological fact that no generic system for identification in cyberspace currently exists. It is not possible to absolutely identify an entity or to tell accurately whether an object has a specific characteristic. It explains that the political debate about the costs and benefits of anonymity presuppose that digital transactions cannot be traced.
The article discusses the cultural resources that support the values of privacy. It promotes on one such cultural resource specifically norms associated with property talk as a means of reinforcing privacy. It would be better to support privacy within American society when it regards to privacy as a kind of property. Property talk would strengthen the rhetorical force behind privacy. It also addresses some of the objections to this form of speaking but only after advancing the arguments in its favor.