SFB 1369 Cultures of vigilance

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Privacy, Self-Observation, and Social Monitoring in U.S. Culture, 1945 to the Present

teilbereich_198x149px_a04Project A05

Principal Investigator

Dr. Bärbel Harju


Loredana Filip

Project Description

This project investigates transformations of privacy in the United States during the 20th and 21st centuries by examining techniques of self-monitoring and the surveillance of others. The objective is to determine both changes in the understanding of privacy in general and the influence of forms of individual and collective vigilance on the development of a uniquely American confessional culture.

Two phenomena are of particular relevance: The first subproject investigates the sudden visibility of privacy as a contested social value in postwar America focusing on new technologies, suburbanization, and confessional culture. The second subproject deals with various forms of self-scrutiny in TED talks, mindfulness literature and science fiction novels, (especially) in the wake of contemporary self-help culture (from the 1990s to the present). In both subprojects, vigilance is constitutive, since privacy can only be achieved through cultural techniques of visibility and watchfulness.