Privacy in Post-Communist Europe, Part II

9th Social Research Conference March 23-24, 2001

Eastern Europe has emerged from a recent communist past where everything was officially "public," privacy was unprotected, and the public sphere was etatized. The problematic public/private dichotomy of postmodern societies is particularly complicated under conditions of post-communism. Distortions of the public sphere (lack of transparency, skewed or monopolized public discourse, etc.) are aggravated by attempts to penetrate privacy in the name of public community values (e.g., in the case of abortion). Transparency is denied in the name of privacy ("personal rights" of former secret police informants prevail in some countries over public interest and the rights of victims). Furthermore, many East European societies lacked a pre-communist historical tradition of privacy, and these issues are not being systematically discussed in Eastern Europe.


This Social Research conference helped to clarify crucial policy issues such as civic education toward the development of a more responsive citizenry; data protection and access to information; the limits and responsibilities of journalism; and reproductive policies. More broadly, the conference offered a valuable point of reference and helped to put the East European issues into a global context in terms of both prevailing cultural influences and intellectual discourse.


This conference is funded by a grant from the Open Society Institute, The Russell Sage Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation.

To order the related issue of Social Research: An International Quarterly

Privacy in Post-Communist Europe, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Spring 2002)


Friday, March 23rd


Session 1: Private/Public: The Distinction


Landscape of Privacy
Renata Salecl, Senior Researcher, Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana; Slovenia
Commentator: Anna Wessely, Associate Professor of Sociology, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy, Eötvös Loránd University; Hungary
Development of the Concept
Joe Bailey, Director of Graduate Studies, Kingston University; United Kingdom
Commentator: Nenad Miscevic, Professor of Philosophy at the Philosophy Department of the University of Maribor, Slovenia


Session 2: Present Understandings of Public/Private as Emerging from Communism


Publicity and Media in Communism and After: The Destruction of Privacy
Piotr Stasinski, Journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza; Poland
Commentator: Oksana Zabuzhko, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Philosophy, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences and Humanities; Ukraine
Collectivity and Community: Is It Public in Russia?
Elena Zdravomyslova, Centre for Independent Social Research, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Commentator: Júlia Szalai, Professor of Sociology, Institute of Sociology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Session 3: States and Boundaries


Private Lives, Secret States
Mark Neocleous, Lecturer, Brunel University; United Kingdom
Commentator: István Szikinger, Ph.D., Practicing Lawyer, Budapest, Hungary
Invasions of Privacy: Wiretapping and Secret Data Storage
Andrzej Rzeplinski, Professor of Criminal and Constitutional Law, Warsaw University; Poland
Commentator: László Majtényi, Parliamentary Commissioner, Data Protection and Freedom of Information; Hungary


Keynote Address


Marc Rotenberg, Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center

Saturday, March 24


Session 4: States and Boundaries (cont.)


Uses and Abuses of the Concept of Privacy
János Kis, University Professor of Political Science and of Philosophy at Central European University, Budapest
Commentator: András Sajó, Head of the Legal Studies Department, Central European University, Budapest
The Borders of Privacy: Personality Rights in Comparison
Roger Errera, Justice, Le Conseil d'Etat; France
Commentator: Susanne Baer, Professor of Law, Humboldt University, Berlin
Reproduction, Self, and State
Judit Sándor, Professor of Political Science, Central European University; Hungary
Commentator: Dominique Memmi, Researcher in Political Science and Sociology, Institut de Recherche sur les Societes Contemporaines, Paris


Session 5: Democratic Process and Non-Public Politics


Public and Private Discourse and the Emerging European Politics of Prejudice
András Kovács, Professor of History, Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University
Commentator: Nils Muiznieks, Director of the Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies; Latvia
Sedition and Civil Solidarity: An Old Problem Re-Visited
G. M. Tamás, Professor of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Hungary
Commentator: Mark Neocleous, Lecturer, Brunel University, United Kingdom
Anonymity, Democracy, and Cyberspace
Yaman Akdeniz, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, Faculty of Law, University of Leeds; United Kingdom
Commentator: Péter György, FA Department of Aesthetics, Eötvös Loránd University; Hungary


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