Privacy & Politics
This page will be updated the next time the course is taught.
Susan E. Gallagher, Associate Professor
Political Science Department, UMASS Lowell
This course traces the development of ideas about privacy in twentieth-century American society. By studying major Supreme Court decisions, we will examine how technological innovation has both encouraged and undermined efforts to separate the public and private spheres. We will also explore the role of gender in the making of the public/private dichotomy by examining women's increasingly visible participation in politics, culture, and the economy. Finally, by looking at recent trends in news coverage, media programming, and corporate data mining, we will question whether the private realm can still be described as a coherent or valued space in present-day American social and political life.
You can find extracts from all of the Supreme Court Cases listed below, as well as links to the full texts of opinions and background information on The Supreme Court Page .
The Emergence of the Public/Private Dichotomy
"The makers of our Constitution...sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred as against the Government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of the rights of man and the right most valued by civilized men." -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting in Olmstead v. United States (1928) Quoted on ACLU Website
Required Readings: Print out all readings and bring them to class.
Ronald B. Standler, An Overview of Privacy Law in the U.S.A.