Beyond Snowden: The Anthropology of Whistleblowing
American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, Washington, DC, Nov. 29-Dec. 3
Organizers: Steven Sampson, Lund Univ., Sweden and Cris Shore, Univ. of Auckland
Whistleblowing, exposing confidential, secret or illegal practices in firms, organizations and public authorities, has been viewed as a heroic act on the part of individuals who risk their jobs and even legal prosecution to expose their employers. Seen from the organization’s perspective, the whistleblower is a disloyal employee, who should have gone through proper channels to reveal ethical or legal shortcomings instead of going public. Since employees in modern workplaces are now more flexible and less loyal, since we are encouraged to promote greater transparency and disclosure in all aspects of business and government administration, and with social media exposure a few clicks away, the potential and risks posed by whistleblowers have increased exponentially. Faced with the whistleblowing threat and pressure to institutionalize whistleblowing procedures, firms, organizations and governments can choose to become more transparent, but they can also retaliate against whistleblowers with legal measures or worse. NGOs and government agencies can now also offer whistleblowers legal support against retaliation or even financial rewards. In an era of secrecy and surveillance, of disclosure and exposure, the era of Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks and the Panama Papers, this panel proposes an anthropology of whistleblowing. Papers on whistleblowing policies, practices, discourses, implications and scandals, including retaliation, protection, and organizational disloyalty are welcome.
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