Reputation Anxiety: Consumer Background Checks and the Cultivation of Risk

Academic Article


  • Abstract This article examines the role consumer background check companies play in the construction of reputation anxiety. Through an examination of corporate blogs and sponsored stories, this article argues these companies cultivate risk along two related axes: (a) fear of dangerous others; and (b) fear of the threat posed by personal information available to others. Through sponsored stories and promotional material, these companies encourage people to mitigate risk by using consumer background check services to seek out information about others and review available details about themselves. Consistent with other forms of risk anxiety in modern cultures, the advice offered by these companies encourages the acceptance of personal responsibility around the acquisition of and response to this information. This article concludes by arguing the cultivation of reputation anxiety around digital skeletons—belonging both to others and to oneself—is rooted in gendered notions of safety and personal responsibility.
  • Authors

  • Draper, Nora
  • Draper, Nora A
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 2019
  • Published In


  • Consumer Background Checks
  • Neoliberalism
  • Online Reputation
  • Reputation Anxiety
  • Risk Society
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 36
  • End Page

  • 52
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 1