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Måns Svensson

Måns Svensson

Senior lecturer (Leave of Absence)

Måns Svensson

Digitalization and Privacy : A systematic literature review


  • Måns Svensson
  • Calle Rosengren
  • Fredrik Åström

Summary, in English

The research area of Digitalization and Privacy, as defined and delimited within the context of this knowledge review, (mainly through the selection of search strings), is in a phase of development. The present study has been delimited to articles in English that have been published in scientific peer-reviewed journals. During the past ten years, the number of scientific articles per year has increased more than five times. For example, a search of the database WEB OF SCIENCE for the year 2006 renders 13 matches, while an identical search for the year 2014 renders 72 matches.

In the present systematic knowledge review, two types of investigations have been conducted. First, a bibliometric analysis that aims to produce a comprehensive overview of the current state of the research in the area at a statistically analytical level. Second, a systematic literature study that has identified relevant scientific articles, analyzed their content and categorized them.

The bibliometric analysis demonstrates that research on digitalization and privacy is quite strictly divided, mainly between three scientific fields. In other words, communication between the various fields (i.e., intertextual references and citations of each field’s research) is somewhat limited. The research fields can be described as: (a) a technical field that is largely concerned with systems development, (b) a legal field that focuses on issues regarding legislated protection of privacy, and (c) a social sciences and behavioral sciences oriented area that includes informatics, psychology, sociology, political science and marketing and management research and more.

This systematic literature review, based on close reading of all included articles, shows a lack of clear, mutually shared, conceptual terminology and common understandings of methodologies within the various scientific disciplines. However, there are a number of areas (or focuses of research) that recur frequently. The five dominant areas are: (a) technology, (b) legislation, (c) the state, (d) theory, and (e) working life.

Further, the research identifies different approaches to digitalization and privacy. First, as a problem (or, perhaps, a challenge) that can be managed using new, improved and more privacy-sensitive technology. Secondly, as an opportunity to work towards achieving good values such as improved health, through practical applications of potentially sensitive data. Thirdly, as a threat to citizens and employees. And, finally, as a relationship of ex-change between usefulness and risks, for example, with regards to state needs for information in order to prevent threats and protect the citizens rights of privacy.

It is also strikingly clear that there is insufficient knowledge of the relation-ship between digital surveillance and potential behavioral changes in society. Various studies highlight that a lack of respect for privacy risks leading to reduced Internet use and reduced political involvement (at least on the Internet). However, at this point in time there is no empirical evidence to support that this is the case.


  • Lund University Internet Institute (LUii)
  • Department of Sociology of Law
  • Centre for Work Environment and Leadership
  • Centre for Work, Technology and Social Change (WTS)
  • Department of Scholarly Communication

Publishing year




Document type



Lund University (Media-Tryck)


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Information Systems, Social aspects


  • digitalization
  • Privacy
  • literature Review
  • Surveillance
  • Surveillance Society



Report number



  • ISBN: 978-91-982312-5-0
  • ISBN: 978-91-982312-4-3