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Transparency, as used in the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning a "transparent" object is one that can be seen through. Transparent procedures include open meetings, financial disclosure statements, the freedom of information legislation, budgetary review, audits, etc.

Contents

Uses

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Banking

Banking transparency and disclosure of bank activities are suggested to prevent future banking crises[1], underground banking, unpublished accounts (clearstream)[2], money laundering, tax evasion, and other fraud[3]. Forcing banks to disclose more information about their lending and investment in deprived areas is suggested as part of the fight against financial exclusion[4]

Wages

In 2009, UK City minister Lord Myners proposed that the pay and identity of up to 20 of the highest-paid employees at companies should be disclosed.[5] In the UK, employees outside the boardroom are currently granted anonymity about their pay deals.[5] He also called for the pay of all employees to be banded in grades. In his interim report in July, David Walker suggested that Bankers pay levels should be disclosed in bands and that the number of staff falling in each band be included.[5]

However, it is unlikely in the UK that disclosure requirements will be made a legal requirement, with hopes being placed on recommendations being undertaken voluntarily.[5]

American banks currently must name their top five highest earners. Regulations in Hong Kong, require banks to list its top earners – without naming them – by pay band.[5]

In Norway, tax authorities annually release the “skatteliste,” or “tax list,”; official records showing the annual income and overall wealth of nearly every taxpayer.[6]

In 2009, the Spanish government for the first time released information on how much each cabinet member is worth, but data on ordinary citizens is still private.[6]

Corporate

Corporate transparency, a form of radical transparency is the construct of removing all barriers to —and facilitating of— free and easy public access to corporate, political and personal information and the laws, rules, social connivance and processes that facilitate and protect those individuals and corporations who freely join, develop and embellish the process[7].

Management

Radical transparency is a management method where nearly all decision making is carried out publicly. All draft documents, all arguments for and against a proposal, the decisions about the decision making process itself, and all final decisions, are made publicly and remain publicly archived.

Media

Media Transparency is the concept of determining how and why information is conveyed through various means. If the media and the public knows everything that happens in all authorities and county administrations there will be a lot of questions, protests and suggestions coming from media and the public. People who are interested in a certain issue will try to influence the decisions. Transparency creates an everyday participation in the political processes by media and the public. One tool used to increase everyday participation in political processes is Freedom of Information legislation and requests. Modern democracy builds on such participation of the people and media. There are, for anybody who is interested, many ways to influence the decisions at all levels in society[8].

Politics

In politics transparency is introduced as a means of holding public officials accountable and fighting corruption. When government meetings are open to the press and the public, when budgets and financial statements may be reviewed by anyone, when laws, rules and decisions are open to discussion, they are seen as transparent and there is less opportunity for the authorities to abuse the system in their own interest[9].

In government, politics, ethics, business, management, law, economics, sociology, etc., transparency is the opposite of privacy; an activity is transparent if all information about it is open and freely available. Thus when courts of law admit the public, when fluctuating prices in financial markets are published in newspapers, those processes are transparent.

When military authorities classify their plans as secret, transparency is absent. This can be seen as either positive or negative; positive, because it can increase national security, negative, because it can lead to secrecy, corruption and even a military dictatorship.

Research

Scholarly research in any academic discipline may also be labeled as (partly) transparent (or Open research) if some or all relevant aspects of the research are open in the sense of Open source, Open Access and Open Data,[10] thereby facilitating social recognition and accountability of the scholars who did the research and replication by others interested in the matters addressed by it[11].

Sports

Sports has become a global business over the last decades, and here, too, initiatives ranging from doping tests to the fighting of sports-related corruption are gaining ground on the footsteps of transparency activities in other domains. [12]

Reading

While a liberal democracy can be a plutocracy, where decisions are taken behind locked doors and the people have very small possibilities to influence the politics between the elections, a participative democracy is more closely connected to the will of the people.

Participative democracy, built on transparency and everyday participation, has been used officially in northern Europe for decades. (In the northern European country Sweden, public access to government documents became a law as early as 1766.) It has officially been adopted as an ideal to strive for by the rest of EU.

Many countries in the world still have older forms of democracy, or other forms of government.

Some organizations and networks, for example, the GNU/Linux community and Indymedia, insist that not only the ordinary information of interest to the community is made freely available, but that all (or nearly all) meta-levels of organizing and decision-making are themselves also published. This is known as radical transparency.

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