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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Privacy

GARY T. MARX

Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

STEPHEN T. MARGULIS

Grand Valley State University, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs195

Privacy is a contentious, multidimensional concept. Its contours are fluid and often ill defined, contested, and negotiated, and these vary by the context and culture. There is little consensus on the framework within which to analyze it, on definitions within and across frameworks, on levels of analysis to which the concept is applicable (e.g., to transactions among individuals, the individual and the organization, or between organizations), and on how competing interests (e.g., transactional data involving buyers and sellers) and values in conflict (e.g., privacy versus freedom of expression) should be weighed or even measured.

An important approach to privacy (the limited access framework) emphasizes the individual's control over his or her information. In this framework, “privacy represents control over unwanted access or, alternatively, the regulation of, limitations on, or exemption from scrutiny, surveillance, or unwanted access” (Margulis 2009, 132). This approach is consistent with most everyday meanings of privacy, behavioral science definitions, and with most common-law concepts and the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. The major goals of privacy are minimizing vulnerability and/or enhancing autonomy (Margulis 2003).

Privacy refers to the rules regarding the protection of information and ...

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