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Tactics, affects and agencies in digital privacy narratives: a story completion study

Ash Watson (Vitalities Lab, Social Policy Research Centre and Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Deborah Lupton (Vitalities Lab, Social Policy Research Centre and Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 15 October 2020

Issue publication date: 27 January 2021

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on the findings from the Digital Privacy Story Completion Project, which investigated Australian participants' understandings of and responses to digital privacy scenarios using a novel method and theoretical approach.

Design/methodology/approach

The story completion method was brought together with De Certeau's concept of tactics and more-than-human theoretical perspectives. Participants were presented with four story stems on an online platform. Each story stem introduced a fictional character confronted with a digital privacy dilemma. Participants were asked to complete the stories by typing in open text boxes, responding to the prompts “How does the character feel? What does she/he do? What happens next?”. A total of 29 participants completed the stories, resulting in a corpus of 116 narratives for a theory-driven thematic analysis.

Findings

The stories vividly demonstrate the ways in which tactics are entangled with relational connections and affective intensities. They highlight the micropolitical dimensions of human–nonhuman affordances when people are responding to third-party use of their personal information. The stories identified the tactics used and boundaries that are drawn in people's sense-making concerning how they define appropriate and inappropriate use of their data.

Originality/value

This paper demonstrates the value and insights of creatively attending to personal data privacy issues in ways that decentre the autonomous tactical and agential individual and instead consider the more-than-human relationality of privacy.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at: https://publons.com/publon/10.1108/OIR-05-2020-0174

Keywords

Citation

Watson, A. and Lupton, D. (2021), "Tactics, affects and agencies in digital privacy narratives: a story completion study", Online Information Review, Vol. 45 No. 1, pp. 138-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-05-2020-0174

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited