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The Intersectional Internet

Race, Sex, Class, and Culture Online

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Edited By Safiya Umoja Noble and Brendesha M. Tynes

From race, sex, class, and culture, the multidisciplinary field of Internet studies needs theoretical and methodological approaches that allow us to question the organization of social relations that are embedded in digital technologies, and that foster a clearer understanding of how power relations are organized through technologies.
Representing a scholarly dialogue among established and emerging critical media and information studies scholars, this volume provides a means of foregrounding new questions, methods, and theories which can be applied to digital media, platforms, and infrastructures. These inquiries include, among others, how representation to hardware, software, computer code, and infrastructures might be implicated in global economic, political, and social systems of control.
Contributors argue that more research needs to explicitly trace the types of uneven power relations that exist in technological spaces. By looking at both the broader political and economic context and the many digital technology acculturation processes as they are differentiated intersectionally, a clearer picture emerges of how under-acknowledging culturally situated and gendered information technologies are impacting the possibility of participation with (or purposeful abstinence from) the Internet.
This book is ideal for undergraduate and graduate courses in Internet studies, library and information studies, communication, sociology, and psychology. It is also ideal for researchers with varying expertise and will help to advance theoretical and methodological approaches to Internet research.
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Chapter Nine: Love, Inc.: Toward Structural Intersectional Analysis of Online Dating Sites and Applications

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← 160 | 161 →

CHAPTER NINE

Love, Inc.: Toward Structural Intersectional Analysis OF Online Dating Sites AND Applications1

MOLLY NIESEN

 

INTRODUCTION

This chapter discusses what I call Online Dating Sites and Applications (ODSAs), and traces the brief history of ODSAs, from their earliest digital forms to today’s onslaught of mobile geosocial applications. I will provide a taxonomy of the industry and suggest areas for structural intersectional research to fill the lacuna in existing scholarship. I use the term dating broadly, to describe all types of connections for either romantic partnership or those that are purely physical. Some ODSAs are marketed to consumers as a way to find long-term romantic partnership, while others are purely for ephemeral encounters.

ODSAs are different from other social networking sites (SNS) for two main reasons. First, connections on ODSAs are typically facilitated by the application or website; they do not connect preexisting non-virtual relationships, like Facebook or Instagram, for instance. Second, unlike other SNS, ODSAs have the upfront stated goal of facilitating one-on-one connections for the sole purposes of sex, romance, and partnership, not merely platonic friendship or business relationships. According to Finkel et al. (2012), online dating offers three major services. First is access, or “ exposure to and opportunity to evaluate potential romantic partners.” Second, ODSAs offer communication with users; and third, they offer matching. ODSA’s marketing techniques hinge on their claims to better matching methods ← 161 | 162 → than real-world encounters, and...

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