Beyond ‘nothing to hide’:When identity is key to privacy threat under surveillance

Stuart, Avelie and Levine, Mark (2017) Beyond ‘nothing to hide’:When identity is key to privacy threat under surveillance. European Journal of Social Psychology, 47 (6). pp. 694-707. ISSN 0046-2772

PDF (Beyond nothing to hide - Stuart Levine EJSP author accepted version)
Beyond_nothing_to_hide_Stuart_Levine_EJSP_author_accepted_version.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (528kB)


Privacy is psychologically important, vital for democracy, and in the era of ubiquitous and mobile surveillance technology, facing increasingly complex threats and challenges. Yet surveillance is often justified under a trope that one has ‘nothing to hide’. We conducted focus groups (N = 42) on topics of surveillance and privacy and using discursive analysis, identify the ideological assumptions and the positions that people adopt to make sense of their participation in a surveillance society. We find a premise that surveillance is increasingly inescapable, but this was only objected to when people reported feeling misrepresented, or where they had an inability to withhold aspects of their identities. The (in)visibility of the surveillance technology also complicated how surveillance is constructed. Those interested in engaging the public in debates about surveillance may be better served by highlighting the identity consequences of surveillance, rather than constructing surveillance as a generalised privacy threat.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
European Journal of Social Psychology
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Stuart, A., and Levine, M. (2017) Beyond ‘nothing to hide’: When identity is key to privacy threat under surveillance. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 47: 694–707. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.2270 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
19 Feb 2019 16:40
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 06:58