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New Releases. Boundaries of Privacy : Dialectics of Disclosure. Description Offering a practical theory for why people make decisions about revealing and concealing private information, Boundaries of Privacy taps into everyday problems in our personal relationships, our health concerns, and our work to investigate the way we manage our private lives. Her work exposes us to the realities of iatrogenic situations in the medical field. First, one begins to appreciate the historical bifurcation that has characterized the medical profession for a long time, whereby physicians are perceived as flawless.

Second, mistakes that should be acknowledged, based on human frailty, are not acknowledged and individuals carry the burden of guilt without opportunities for resolution and pacification due to privacy rules. We can find similar professional difficulties in almost all professions—from the class teacher to the university professor, there are mistakes that are classified as private information. But there can be no denying that these may pose some ethical challenges as the world matches towards more and more open society. In the example of an abuse child, privacy may be imposed on the child by those who abuse the child, threatening the child and forcing the child into concealment.

Petronio, however, resourcefully draws attention to unconventional resources available to abused children, e. Understanding the social stigma attached to the disease leads us to appreciate why individuals living with the disease might choose to reveal themselves to close family members in ways that should be hidden from the public. The implication is that the two dialectical binaries are always in constant contestation and adjustment, contingent on multiple externalities such as time, relational disposition, etc.

Petronio argues that, while individuals may, of their own volition, choose to weaken some boundaries in order to let some information out, some of these boundaries may be contested by others who may be seeking information legitimately or illegitimately. Placing the book within a timeframe, it is clear that by when the book was published, the Internet had already made its incursion into many parts of the globe, raising privacy issues at multiple levels—the personal and collective, national and transnational levels with dire legal, political, economic and security implications.

But obviously, there are many developments after this publication that could not have been anticipated by the author. Privacy laws, government interest, and technology are in constant contestation and adjustment. These scenarios can be viewed from multiple levels. While these issues are consonant with breaking the metaphorical boundaries or installing one in the sense in which Patronio applied the term, the scenarios, however, require further explication. In the case of the censorship policy, boundaries are mounted to preclude the Chinese from accessing global information and to also prevent the rest of the world from accessing certain information about China.

The closest Petronio came to addressing the issue of intrusion and invasion of privacy were examples of Ms. Terrorism and rapid advances in technology have altered traditional conceptions of privacy and disclosure, with a more robust attention to invasion and intrusion, as in the examples cited. In the case of the Google, secured organizational territories have been invaded, whereas in the case of the Chinese, its cyberspace has been secured from outsider invasion and insider access to the global information flow.

One can certainly identify emblematic similarities in which the metaphorical weakening of boundaries on the one hand and strengthening on the other, as used in the traditional conception of privacy and disclosure, manifests in cyberspace. There are no doubts variations exist in the way information is secured in the traditional conception of privacy as compared to what pertains in cyberspace,.

Sandra Petronio, PhD

In this space, myriad of privacy and disclosure issues are occurring. Users place information on Facebook without due regard for consequences of unauthorized linkages. At one level, Facebook records all activities undertaken by the individual, e. The point is that, while in the first instance, our privacy boundaries are beyond our control, in the second instance, we may control those linkages by engaging privacy mechanisms on Facebook to avoid encroachment on our boundaries.

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The striking similarities are that, just as in our interpersonal interactions with doctors we may choose which information to give out, so can we be discreet in choosing what information to put on Facebook. Nevertheless, the bottom-line remains we do not have absolute control over information we put on Facebook.

While in the case of medical records, the law regulates these boundaries, in the case of Facebook it is too early to be precise on these rules, and besides computers are inadvertently transmitting personal information to unknown destinations and making these rules fuzzy. But all in all, linkages and boundary violation are occurring. This only goes to underscore the fuzzy nature of the rules governing social networks, which are still inchoate.

There is the need to appreciate the inherent constraints in writing such as the factor of time. So much has happened since, changing our understanding and conception of issues of privacy and disclosure both at the interpersonal and organizational levels.

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CPM also incorporates ideas of self-disclosure. This theory hinges upon the idea of weighing and comparing pros and cons in order to decide courses of action in communication when considering privacy boundaries in different relationships. Self-disclosure is an ongoing, dynamic process with communicators making daily decisions of what to disclose with others.

As a rule-based theory, CPM allows for in-depth conclusions and understandings to be reached concerning personal beliefs held by people surrounding their privacy rights. Lending itself to an abstract understanding of privacy, this theory is unique in its lack of suppositions and assumptions that would otherwise prevent the theory from growing and responding to the environment of communication being evaluated.

This theory is especially useful in evaluating the disclosure of information in communication environments like healthcare, relationships, media, and work environments. According to Petronio, the first iteration of CPM was developed over 20 years ago, and it was designed to create a theoretical framework for understanding and categorizing disclosure. The expansion of this theory created the macro, rule-based CPM theory.

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The rule-based nature of the theory implies that Privacy is not just one choice, but a series of choices that create a process in which people manage their personal risks and benefits of disclosure. CPM is dependent on three main rules. Second, for information that is shared with two or more people, boundaries are coordinated. Last, once disclosure occurs, groups create collective management that must be coordinated.


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The five core theory elements factor in personal understandings, and how they fall under the theory. All of these elements focus on conscious efforts made by people to protect their privacy and their own interests. The listed elements provide understanding of how we can better understand communication between people about their own information. The five core theory elements are private information, private boundaries, control and ownership, rule-based management, and privacy management.

Theory element number one is the idea of private information. This element serves the purpose of how deeply information affects a person; essentially revealing itself as the revealing of information. Private information encompasses known and unknown, as well as private information concerning self and others. Studies show that when individuals sense that a private matter will align with a current conversation, they are likely to disclose that information.

The second element is the element of private boundaries which helps to draw the line between what qualifies as private, and what falls under the public sphere. This line is important to help people realize what may be shared does not fall under open discussion.