Edev_501 Response wk2_3

Your distinction between trust and confidentiality is an important one (and a shout-out to Ingrid for her excellent distinction between privacy and confidentiality). If I’m to understand you properly, please let me summarise your point. Confidentially is a type of manners–manners that we may expect at some level professionals to abide by–, but trust is not a given; it follows, or not, from exchanges. If my understanding is flawed, I’d very much appreciate you correcting me.

Within the constructs of culture and manners is the dimension of expectation. In the words of Hofstede (2011), ‘Culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others.’ If we know a culture, we have the ability to predict how an individual from that culture is likely to behave as opposed to how an individual from another culture may operate. In other words, we can expect certain types of behaviour. This much may be clearly stated. Confidentiality, if it is to be a custom, must contain elements that we can expect from it. This doesn’t make sense to me. There’s something missing in the logical flow.

That missing component may be tied up in the notions of intention and imposition.

By intention, I mean that confidentiality is a set of actions we perform around an object, but trust is not; trust is something given to an object. If I trust your information, I endow it with a quality that colours my perception of the information. The actual information nor its location aren’t changed. However, I can’t ‘confidentiality’ your information. I need to treat it (or not) with confidentiality. Then there is a sense of limitation on the range of actions that I can apply to it. I’m not free to use the information without breaking confidentiality, but there is the potential that the information is distributed outside of its original location. I can intend to keep confidentiality but somehow end up breaking that intention. It doesn’t make sense to talk about ‘intending to trust someone’ (as in ‘I intend to trust you tomorrow but not today’).

This should clear the space for the notion of imposition. Because confidentiality can be broken, as you say so rightly about commitment, rules ‘can be imposed by agreement and procedures’. Trust can never be imposed.

I don’t think then that confidentiality is either custom or manners. It may be truer to say that we can expect professionals to adhere to with whatever rules the UoL constrict us. And perhaps this compliance is present within the concept of ‘professional’.

As for the expert masters degree idea, I fully agree with you. Given the lack of space given to us, I had to omit much of the thought. I had wanted to say that the definition given by the act of bestowing a masters on an individual entitles that person the right to be considered an expert to the level recognised both by and of the university. But such turgid prose is tiring to read and write!

I’ll leave you with a quotation from Mr Anonymus that parallels yours.

‘An expert is someone who gets to know more and more about less and less until finally he knows everything … about nothing!’

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1).http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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