The Hidden Life of Personal Data in 21st Century Commerce: Toward a Sociology of Resignation.
Drawing on my work studying the retailing and advertising industries, I will review some of the ways merchants are gathering and using data about shoppers online, on apps, and in physical stores as competition over customers gets increasingly strong. Then, drawing on national surveys I have conducted since 1999, I will explore the idea of a privacy paradox—the seeming conflict between people’s stated concerns about marketers use of their data while they continually provide data to marketers. Industry executives explain away this paradox by insisting shoppers are logically engaging in tradeoffs. I will marshal survey evidence to argue that what is really going on is resignation. Advocating for a “sociology of resignation” to explore such dynamics, I will also argue that Americans’ resignation regarding their data flows is not an accidental byproduct of commercial activity in the late twenty-first century. It is, rather, a strategy on the part of commercial interests to forestall collective public anger.
About Joseph Turow, Ph.D.
Joseph Turow is Robert Lewis Shayon Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication. His research focuses on digital cultural industries, especially at the intersection of the internet, marketing, and society, as well as studies on database marketing, media and privacy, digital out-of-home media, the process of innovation in the mass media, and the relationship between media and the medical system. Here is his most recent privacy report covered in the New York Times.
Professor Turow is an elected Fellow of the International Communication Association and was presented with a Distinguished Scholar Award by the National Communication Association. A 2005 New York Times Magazine article referred to Turow as “probably the reigning academic expert on media fragmentation.” In 2010, the New York Times called him "the ranking wise man on some thorny new-media and marketing topics." In 2012, the TRUSTe internet privacy-management organization designated him a "privacy pioneer" for his research and writing on marketing and digital-privacy. Here is his most recent privacy report covered in the New York Times.
He has authored ten books, edited five, and written more than 150 articles on mass media industries. His most recent books are The Aisles Have Eyes: How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power (Yale, forthcoming in Fall 2016) and Media Today: Mass Communication in a Converging World, Sixth Edition (Routledge, 2016). In 2012 Yale University Press published his book The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry is Defining Your Identity and Your World (Yale, 2012). In 2010 the University of Michigan Press published Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling, and Medical Power, a history of prime time TV and the sociopolitics of medicine, and in 2013 it won the McGovern Health Communication Award from the University Of Texas College Of Communication. Other books reflecting current interests are Niche Envy: Marketing Discrimination in the Digital Age (MIT Press, 2006), Breaking Up America: Advertisers and the New Media World (University of Chicago Press, 1997; paperback, 1999; Chinese edition 2004); and The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age (edited with Lokman Tsui, University of Michigan Press, 2008).
Turow’s continuing national surveys of the American public on issues relating to marketing, new media, and society have received a great deal of attention in the popular press, as well as in the research community. He has written about media and advertising for the popular press, including American Demographics magazine, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times. His research has received financial support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others.
Turow was awarded a Lady Astor Lectureship by Oxford University. He has received several conference paper and book awards and has lectured widely. He was invited to give the McGovern Lecture at the University of Texas College of Communication, the Pockrass Distinguished Lecture at Penn State University, and the Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture at Louisiana State University. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Poetics, and Media Industries. He also has served as the elected chair of the Mass Communication Division of the International Communication Association.