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1-s2.0-S0049089X14002270-main

Privacy,technology,and norms:The case of Smart

Meters

1-s2.0-S0049089X14002270-main

Christine Horne a ,?,Brice Darras a ,Elyse Bean a ,Anurag Srivastava b ,Scott Frickel c

a Department of Sociology,Washington State University,United States

b

School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,Washington State University,United States

c Department of Sociology,Brown University,Unite

d States a r t i c l

e i n

f o Article history:Received 18October 2013Revised 30September 2014Accepted 4December 2014Available online 16December 2014Keywords:Social norm Privacy Smart Meter Technology

a b s t r a c t

Norms shift and emerge in response to technological innovation.One such innovation is

Smart Meters –components of Smart Grid energy systems capable of minute-to-minute

transmission of consumer electricity use information.We integrate theory from sociolog-

ical research on social norms and privacy to examine how privacy threats affect the

demand for and expectations of norms that emerge in response to new technologies,using

Smart Meters as a test case.Results from three vignette experiments suggest that increased

threats to privacy created by Smart Meters are likely to provoke strong demand for and

expectations of norms opposing the technology and that the strength of these normative

rules is at least partly conditional on the context.Privacy concerns vary little with actors’

demographic characteristics.These ?ndings contribute to theoretical understanding of

norm emergence and have practical implications for implementing privacy protections

that effectively address concerns of electricity users.

Ó2014Elsevier Inc.All rights reserved.1.Introduction

In recent decades scholars across disciplines have sought to explain the emergence of norms –informal rules governing behavior that are socially enforced (Horne,2001).A prominent approach focuses on the consequences of behaviors (Demsetz,1967;Coleman,1990;Fehr and Gächter,2002;Heckathorn,1989;Yamagishi,1986).It suggests that if a behavior creates negative consequences for others,then people are likely to view the behavior negatively;in other words,there will be a demand for norms that constrain the behavior.People will presumably also expect that others will view the behavior negatively.But,some researchers have also argued that norms are conditional (Fine,2001;Hechter and Opp,2001;Jasso and Opp,1997).That is,the same (harmful)behaviors may lead to different reactions and expectations depending on the social context (Ocantos et al.,2013;Edmonds,2014).Relatively little research explicitly tests this argument,however.In this paper,we seek to address this gap by examining the effects of behavior consequences across contexts in a substantively important domain –privacy and technology.

Technological innovation has created unprecedented potential for invasions into individuals’privacy (Culnan and Bies,2003).While voices in popular media argue that privacy is dead (e.g.,Hill,2010),scholars ?nd that Americans are very con-cerned about privacy and engage in strategic actions to try to protect it (e.g.,boyd and Marwick,2011).Privacy is thought to create boundaries that are essential for structuring social interactions (Nippert-Eng,2010).And many believe that social life is not possible (or enjoyable)without some level of privacy –privacy is necessary for human ?ourishing (see,e.g.,Cohen,2000;Gandy,2007).

http://devegacer.com/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.12.003

0049-089X/Ó2014Elsevier Inc.All rights reserved.?Corresponding author at:Department of Sociology,204Wilson-Short Hall,Washington State University,Pullman,WA 99164,United States.

E-mail address:chorne@wsu.edu (C.Horne).

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