Date of Degree

6-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor

Patricia Clough

Committee Members

Lynn Chancer

Jessie Daniels

Subject Categories

Sociology

Keywords

biopolitics, new media, dating apps, Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, racism, critical race theory, algorithms, artificial intelligence, big data, haptic media, media studies, critical internet studies, uncanny, unconscious, cyberculture

Abstract

This dissertation is an investigation into the effects of the popularization of dating apps on their users. I use OkCupid, Tinder, and Bumble as paradigmatic examples to flesh out these effects. The data I used for this investigation are fifty interviews and a content analysis of Bumble, Tinder, and OkCupid subreddit forums. I focused on the effects of swiping, texting, and the black boxing of the algorithm in chapters 2, 3, and 4 respectively. In all three chapters, I make the case that the shift to apps conforms with the exigencies of an economy that increasingly makes use of affect and that this affect is generated by recursively coupling parts of app users’ bodies with touchscreen phones. This recursive coupling allows dating apps to update users’ body parts, distribute them into milieus algorithmically determined to be thoughtful, and put race to work as grist for an algorithmic allotment of affect.

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