"Mediated Sexualities and the “Dating Apocalypse”: Gender, Race and Sexual Identity on Hookup Apps"
Areas of specialization:
Dissertation Description: My dissertation intervenes in academic and popular debates about the social changes brought about by new technologies. I use the case of smartphone dating applications, known colloquially as "hookup apps." Users of these apps now number in the tens of millions and have received increasing attention in public discourse. They represent a significant touchstone in the ongoing debate about the effects of communication technology on social intimacy. Contrary to much popular and academic discourse, I argue that the technology of these apps is not radically changing sexual practices or social norms. The relationship between technology and social life is dialectical and mediated by users, who often engage with technology in unexpected ways. My work fills a gap in technology studies by putting it in conversation with intersectional sexualities scholarship to show how technology is gendered and racialized. The multi-method qualitative study combines data from 41 interviews with app users of varied sexual, gender and racial identities who are 25 to 40 years old, over 1500 user-profile screenshots, mainstream media coverage, and popular cultural productions such as widely circulated YouTube videos. I compare the experiences and meaning making of users of two different apps: Grindr, for men seeking men, and Tinder. Tinder, originally touted as the “straight Grindr” is also popular with lesbian, bisexual and queer women.
Dissertation Chair: Dr. Lorena Garcia
Sexualities; Science and Technology Studies (STS); LGBTQ studies; Race, Class, and Gender; Race and Ethnicity; Feminist and Queer Theory; Body and Embodiment; Media Studies