The Transparency Society

The Transparency Society

91 pages


Genre: Essay, Philosophy, Nonfiction
The imperative of transparency in our society makes us slaves to visibility and exhibition.

Transparency is the order of the day. It is a term, a slogan, that dominates public discourse about corruption and freedom of information. Considered crucial to democracy, it touches our political and economic lives as well as our private lives. Anyone can obtain information about anything. Everything—and everyone—has become transparent: unveiled or exposed by the apparatuses that exert a kind of collective control over the post-capitalist world. Yet, transparency has a dark side that, ironically, has everything to do with a lack of mystery, shadow, and nuance. Behind the apparent accessibility of knowledge lies the disappearance of privacy, homogenization, and the collapse of trust. The anxiety to accumulate ever more information does not necessarily produce more knowledge or faith. Technology creates the illusion of total containment and the constant monitoring of information, but what we lack is adequate interpretation of the information. In this manifesto, Byung-Chul Han denounces transparency as a false ideal, the strongest and most pernicious of our contemporary mythologies. 

German title: Transparenzgesellschaft
ISBN: 978-3-88221-595-3
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2012
Print run: 6
Sold to: Mongolia, Albania, Hungary, Japan, United States, Egypt, Taiwan, China, Turkey, Portugal, France, Russische Föderation, Greece, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Spain

Sample translation

English translation available

"For Han, transparency ultimately boils down to a new form of self-control in meritocracy ... A resolute plea against universalized exposure."
Tim Caspar Boehme, taz