Expert in the history of American privacy, social security, big data, survey data and the public sphere.
Sarah Igo's primary research interests are in modern American cultural, intellectual, legal and political history, the history of the human sciences, the sociology of knowledge, and the history of the public sphere. Her most recent book, The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2018), traces U.S. debates over privacy beginning with “instantaneous photography” in the late nineteenth century and culminating in our present dilemmas over social media and big data. Winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History and the Merle Curti Award for Intellectual History, The Known Citizen was also named one of the Washington Post's “notable non-fiction books” of 2018. Igo's first book, The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (Harvard University Press, 2007), explores the relationship between survey data—opinion polls, sex surveys, consumer research—and modern understandings of self and nation. An Editor’s Choice selection of the New York Times and one of Slate’s Best Books of 2007, The Averaged American was the winner of the President's Book Award of the Social Science History Association and the Cheiron Book Prize as well as a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award of the American Sociological Association. Igo is also a co-author of Bedford/St. Martin’s American history textbook, The American Promise.