"Doing privacy": Consumers search for sovereignty through privacy management practices

Jo En Yap , Michael B. Beverland, Liliana L. Bove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose - The objectives of this study are to explore how consumers achieve, maintain, and/or regain privacy and to more fully understand the meaning consumers ascribe to privacy. Methodology/approach: Image-elicited depth interviews were conducted on a theoretical sample of 23 informants. Findings: Consumers are active participants who assert their dominance in the marketplace and resist organizational practices that impinge upon their privacy. Seven categories of privacy management practices were identified: withdraw, defend, feint, neutralize, attack, perception management, and reconcile. The findings also reveal that when informants desire privacy and engage in these practices, they are ultimately in a quest for the meta-goal of sovereignty over their respective personal domains. Research limitations/implications: This study provides support for and expands upon knowledge of the privacy management practices identified in extant literature, and offers an encompassing conceptualization of privacy as it applies in the context of contemporary consumption. Social implications: This study may assist policy makers and managers in their efforts to develop appropriate solutions to manage consumers' privacy concerns and support them in their pursuit of privacy. Originality/value of the paper: This study injects the voice of the consumer into the privacy debate. A broad theoretical framework for understanding what consumers mean when they talk about privacy and the practices they engage in to "do privacy" is presented. It is hoped that this study provides a basis for managing consumer privacy concerns and future research on the issue so that improved outcomes can be attained for all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-190
JournalResearch in Consumer Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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