Mediated Sexualities and the "Dating Apocalypse": Gender, Race and Sexual Identity on Hookup Apps
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This dissertation is a qualitative study of two smartphone dating applications, Tinder and Grindr, known colloquially as “hookup apps.” In this dissertation, I take up questions of whether and how hookup apps are changing dating, sex and intimacy in the United States. 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. I use the case of hookup apps to address broader themes of technological and cultural change, by showing the value and necessity of contextualizing claims about the effects of new technologies on social life. I bring together insights from sexualities studies and science and technology studies in order to understand they ways in which technological mediation of sexual interaction and identity matters to social life. Data for this study come from forty-one interviews with app users, as well as screenshots of user profiles and online content related to the apps.