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The social significance of home networking : public surveillance and social management

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Electronic Data Processing -- Social Aspects.
  • Minicomputers.
  • Privacy
  • Right Of.
  • Social Control.
  • Economics
  • Political Science


This thesis analyzes the social significance of the integration of the home into computer networks. The social significance of home networking is grasped when these systems are understood in their relationship to emerging forms of electronic social control. The thesis establishes this connection through an analysis of structural trends in the videotex industry which demonstrates the value to the corporate sector of cybernetic information generated by interactive systems. The North American tradition of privacy policy is reviewed and demonstrated as inadequate for the protection of personal privacy in home networking. It is further shown that privacy policy does not represent an adequate theorization of social control in computer networking, since it does not account for practices of aggregate social control, which have been termed in the thesis "social management," so vital to the cybernetic economy of late capitalism. Finally, the thesis argues that current conceptual frameworks and policy mechanisms cannot assure the socially beneficial development of home networking, given the tendency towards the integration of such systems into structures of social control.

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