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Technologies of the Self: Diachronic Privacy and Self-Presentational Autonomy

Ward, Helena; (2024) Technologies of the Self: Diachronic Privacy and Self-Presentational Autonomy. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with our interests in self-presentation: in having a measure of control over which aspects of our selves – our bodies, thoughts, how we style our appearances – we allow others to observe, and on what terms. I consider our self-presentational interests in relation to our right to privacy, privacy being one of the main ways in which we retain self-presentational control. And in light of technologies of the self, which have transformed the ways in which we construct our own identities and observe other people’s. The first aim of this thesis is to vindicate a distinction between the synchronic and diachronic aspects of self-presentation. Sociological and ethical accounts of self-presentation adopt a Synchronic Approach, I argue that this approach is incomplete – our self-presentational interests also have a diachronic character. In short, it is not only important that we are able to exercise a measure of control over how we present ourselves to others at any one time, but also that we’re able to exercise a measure of control over other people's access to our past self-presentations. These are our diachronic self-presentational interests (DSPIs). The second aim of this thesis is to show how technologies of the self undermine our DSPIs. While these technologies do not single-handedly thwart our DSPIs, they undermine our diachronic self-presentational autonomy by introducing social customs and individual incentives to act in ways that are negligent, short-sighted, hostile, or in various other ways insufficiently attentive to our DSPI-related responsibilities. I argue that the nature and extent of this threat has been underestimated because of the implicitly Synchronic Approach. Our DSPIs provide us with some grounds for a right to diachronic privacy – in keeping our childhood foibles, jejune opinions, and bygone bodies to ourselves.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Technologies of the Self: Diachronic Privacy and Self-Presentational Autonomy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10184603
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