Password Politics

Why do new social behaviours emerge?

I’ve been observing a form of behaviour that occurs when you enter your password online in front of someone you don’t know very well. I have found that most people find it necessary to make it clear they are looking away by some form of exaggerated turning away, averting their gaze, closing their eyes etc. This is a form of human behaviour that has emerged in direct response to a set of technological changes.

I’ve been thinking about Giddens’ theory of structuration which suggests that there is a balance between the small everyday actions of individuals and the wider social forces that shape behaviour and attitudes to behaviour. Structuration proposes that structures emerge through the repetition of human actions. Social structure persists therefore only as constantly reinforced by human behaviour. When behaviours change and adapt to circumstance, social structures do too.

As Giddens says; ‘Society only has form, and that form only has effects on people, in so far as structure is produced and reproduced in what people do’ (Giddens & Pierson, 1998: 77). In the context of this project I’m interested in asking the question: How does technology change and influence human behaviour? What new social structures might emerge from the accumulation and repetition of these behaviours?


About johnfass

bringing you curiosities, rarities and marvels wherever we find them


  1. Great! It seems tough as if the female “watchers” are clearer in looking away than the male. Have you made the same observation, or is this just me? How would you explain, if it were so?

    • Definitely a good point Stijn. It would be interesting to find out in a larger sample size whether this gender bias exists. My initial finding was that people I know (even just a little) are more likely to look away than total strangers, but yes further studies needed.

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