debuts of the month
Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

The Costs of Privacy Surveillance and Reputation in America by Steven L. Nock

The Costs of Privacy Surveillance and Reputation in America

Part of the Social Institutions and Social Change Series Series


The Costs of Privacy Surveillance and Reputation in America by Steven L. Nock

Americans now enjoy vastly more privacy than in the past. But privacy makes it difficult to know much about other people; more privacy means more strangers. The Costs of Privacy begins with these questions: How, in an anonymous society of strangers, is trust possible? What enables both individuals and institutional actors to trust others whom they have never met and do not know?Nock suggests an answer: that surveillance establishes reputations, and it is these which permit us to trust strangers. Simply put, actors are willing to trust those whose reputations justify that trust. Not only does surveillance establish reputations, but it also maintains them among strangers. Nock defines such surveillance functionally, as overt and conspicuous forms of credentials (e.g., credit cards, educational degrees, drivers' licenses) and/or ordeals (e.g., lie detector tests, drug tests, integrity tests). He shows that the use of credentials and ordeals, over time, is correlated with the number of strangers in our society. Anonymity, then, is one of the costs of greater personal privacy; surveillance is another, offsetting cost.Older methods of surveillance have long been staples of our society. The concluding chapter focuses on newer methods of surveillance, those which can record genetic and biochemical information about people. Unlike traditional bases of reputation, genetic information makes it possible to predict future physical illnesses, mental health problems, and various types of behavior. These new forms of surveillance may seem attractive because they make it possible for actors to enter into risky relationships with many more people (i.e., trust them) without ever getting to know them. In so doing, we may be altering the nature of our public life. And that, argues Nock, may be the greatest cost of privacy.

About the Author

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

31st December 1993


Steven L. Nock

More books by Steven L. Nock
Author 'Like for Like'


AldineTransaction an imprint of Taylor & Francis Inc


149 pages


Political structure & processes



Insightful reader reviews and unbiased recommendations. I don't know how I chose books before Lovereading! An essential for all book lovers.

Sarah Harper

Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

It's the first site that I visit when deciding on the next set of books to buy. A particular treat is being able to download an extract.

Tessa Olson

Lovereading always comes up with great suggestions and has introduced me to enjoyable books and new authors to discover.

Gaynor Passmore

My horizons have been broadened by some of the books I have been lucky to review and I expect it to be no different in the future.

Daran Bellingham

I love reading because my cares & woes vanish for an hour or two whilst I read of the joys, adventures, lives of the characters in the book.

Jennifer Moville

Love books. Love reading. Love reading books. And, here's the trick. Here's a website which caters for people like me.

Ian Harvey-brown

I love the newsletter with reviews of all the new books coming out. Can't wait to open it when it arrives in my inbox.

Rachel Aygin