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Simon Garnett

‘The politics of personality: Privacy and liberalization in the Federal Republic of Germany’

The dissertation asks how the development of concepts of freedom of personality and their function in grounding concepts of the private sphere and its protection contributed to the ‘fundamental liberalization’ of West German society and political culture in the FRG from 1945. Concepts of the freedom of personality and their connection to concepts of privacy are studied genealogically, through analysis of ethical, legal, and constitutional-political discourse. This genealogy is broken down into periods, in which key discursive topoi are identified. These include: the common good and the limits of the freedom of personality; the constitutional definition of the value of the person and personality; the interpretation of the constitutional guarantee of the liberal democratic order and its protection; the constitutionality of practices of state security and surveillance; political and constitutional implications of technological change, especially computerized data collection. The study argues that, from the 1960s, a process of constitutional-political liberalization caused concepts of personality and privacy to shift from a statist and anti-liberal frame of reference towards a pluralist frame. It argues that this re-negotiation of concepts of personality and privacy, which in 1983 resulted in the constitutional recognition of the ‘right to informational self-determination’, was constitutive of this process of liberalization.