“WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, IT’S NOT TOTALLY CLEAR WHAT’S OKAY AND WHAT’S NOT”: An interview study of how young people reason about smartphone surveillance in romantic relationships
Abstract: Snooping attacks, unauthorized access, and GPS-tracking: In the past years, a new kind of interpersonal surveillance has earned attention within the field of men’s violence against women and cyberspace security - Smartphone surveillance. Investigating the digital dimension of intimate partner violence, Dragiewicz et al. (2018) introduce the term Technology Facilitated Coercive Control (TFCC). Scholars stress that digital functions do not only facilitate our everyday life but may cause significant harm. Nevertheless, is this the case in non-violentromantic relationships as well? This thesis study the research question of how young people reason about Technology Facilitated Coercive Control in romantic relationships. Through qualitative in-depth interviews, the study aims to collect and analyze young people’s sharing behaviors and if smartphone surveillance is perceived as something normalized. Borrowing a theoretical framework that previously has been applied to explain the process of normalization within violent relationships, this study operationalizes the framework to analyze a new phenomenon and research problem. The outcome is four ideal types, describing the correlation between sharing behaviors and trust: The Trustful, the Confident, the Suspicious,and the Controlled. The study’s main findings are that people do share information with their partners based on trust. It is also among trustful partners that behaviors linked to TFCC tend to be normalized toa higher level. However, it is not until trust fades that these behaviors do cause harm and intrude on digital integrity. Withal, it is not easy to stay aware of when this may happen.
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