By: CHRISTINA CLARK
Giving a presentation on the study of privacy on Sept. 26 was Sandra Petronio, guest of the IU South Bend department of Communications Studies. A nationally renowned scholar, who focuses her study on privacy, as well as a faculty member of the Department of Communications Studies at IU-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), Petronio gave a presentation surrounding her work developing, and with the Communications Privacy Management (CPM) theory.
Petronio met with communication studies classes, and held an invitation-only round-table discussion earlier in the day prior to giving her presentation in the evening.
During the round-table, undergraduate and graduate students were given a more intimate setting in which to speak with Petronio. She gave her take on specific issues within communications and discussed how privacy is considered and effects each area of study.
“One of the issues that I talk a lot about is the fact that we need to understand better what the issues in privacy are,” Petronio said, as she opened her evening presentation.
She gave some background on the Communication Privacy Management Center at the IUPUI campus. She is the theorist behind the center and the director. The center has over 1,000 research citations using the studies and theory, applying to family, health, personal, government, policy and politics. She also noted that 44 countries are represented in the use of the theory. Noting this, she feels the study of privacy and her theory of CPM will prove to continue to be important.
“So it’s family and health and personal, in government, in policy, in politics, some people use in each of these the theory to clarify the idea of private information,” she explained. The breadth of the issue touches every interaction we have.
“So what am I talking about here? Is privacy paradoxical? We say no,” said Petronio. “How do we think about privacy issues? How do we think about privacy in general? This theory works from a dialectical perspective and I know sometimes people aren’t entirely sure what that means.”
She went on to clarify, “The example I can give you, if you lived in a hut, all but yourself, you wouldn’t have to worry anything about privacy. But if you want to be social, and want to have social interactions with people and relationships with people, then you have to take into account the factor of wanting to be private but also wanting to be social, and in that case you have to balance both at the same time.”
Petronio’s discussion went from the idea of sharing information with one other person, making them co-owners of the information. This gives the two party’s responsibilities concerning the information, as well as assumed or agreed upon privacies. However, since two people are in charge of the information after sharing, the original owner of the information can no longer control what the second person does with the information.
This example, and the issues surrounding it and the other unique scenarios, was then applied to real world interactions and technology, especially concerning the field of communication. Petronio’s presentation gave a depth of discussion to privacy issues that stem from a simple place and grow to an ever more complicated one in today’s world.
She finished up her presentation with a question and answer session with attendees.