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Available for FREE download now. This site also available in: Visit Our Other Sites. Stempfhuber and Liegl note that the use of dating apps transforms travelers' experiences. Dating apps do so by helping travelers to observe and make sense of the strange surroundings by browsing local users' profiles.

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Travelers are thus able to orient themselves in unfamiliar local contexts. Researchers deliberately situate their examination of gay men's practices in a sociotechnical context, paying careful attention to the technical attributes of dating apps. Inevitably, comparisons are made in different ways.

On the one hand, practices on dating apps are compared to those in real life or to an era when dating apps had not yet been invented. Hooking up on dating apps, which is different from cruising in a physical space, provides gay men with greater control in releasing or gathering information, such as HIV status Race, a. On the other hand, the understanding of these technical attributes does not start from scratch, and the design and functionalities of dating apps are often compared to those of online gay venues accessed with computers, including chat rooms or dating sites.

Studies therefore highlight the new affordances of dating apps. Blackwell et al. Gay dating app users experience tension. On the other hand, they do not want to reveal too much identifying information. Users develop a set of strategies to signal their intentions and make themselves attractive.

In virtual space on dating apps where identification cues are limited, users find their own way to reinsert identification information to gain social attraction. For instance, Grindr shows only distance information for nearby users and erases location details. Thus, in their profiles, some users input the name of socially defined spaces that they identify with, such as neighborhoods, city names, or institutions. They associate themselves with these landmarks to make themselves more socially attractive Birnholtz et al. At the same time, users need to manage the possibility of exposing identifying information.

There are several possible cases. First, some users are reluctant to reveal their gay identity to others. To hide their identity, users may use profile pictures that do not reveal their face Blackwell et al. For instance, in the United States, older users and those who share race are less likely to disclose their faces. Compared to Americans, gay dating app users in China are less likely to show their faces or mention their goals, and more Chinese users mention seeking relationships than American users Chan, However, photos and profiles are not always reliable indicators of others' intentions.

Users' actual behaviors do not always match what they say in their profiles, and users do not always update their profiles after their intentions change Blackwell et al. In private interaction, users may provide more personal information about themselves. In private chat on dating apps, users are still trying to positively present themselves and signal their intentions while discerning others' intentions. They delineate three stages of the interactions facilitated by dating apps. First, profile functions as an initial negotiation. Given that goals can vary with time, stating a specific goal in one's profile makes it difficult to withdraw this information later, and retaining some ambiguity means leaving room to maneuver in the interaction.

Users may negotiate their goals in the chat, and the timing of another user's reply, whether it is immediate or delayed, may change the flow of the chat and alter previous expectations.

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In a more specific case, Licoppe et al. As they argue: Licoppe et al. This allows users to avoid referring to personal issues and biographical detail that could lead to more social and emotional involvement. First, users ask and answer questions in a way that information is made explicit and brief, such as pictures, location, and immediate goals. Second, questions in the beginning may be raised rapidly one after another, leaving the interrogee little time to reply to each in turn.

Third, information such as pictures and locations may be sent voluntarily to encourage reciprocity.

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Compared to open MSM, hidden MSM are more reluctant to post recognizable profile pictures and less frequently use online dating platforms for nonsexual purposes. In the transition of cruising from physical venues to dating apps, hidden MSM tend to feel an anxiety that they are at a bigger risk of exposure on dating apps than in physical cruising venues, as shown in McGuire's study based in Seoul. In addition to detailing the remediation of gay men's online dating practices, gay dating app research also contributes to understanding the reformation of social arrangements around gay life.

In the following section, we detail two themes in regard to social arrangements, namely, gay communities in the digital era and new forms of social relations. Social arrangements, such as patterns of relations, organizing, and institutional structure, respond and adapt to available systems and devices and to communicative practices, in a process of reformation Lievrouw, In gay dating app studies, researchers have been especially concerned with the reformation of gay men's relationships to each other in gay communities.

Some studies claim that dating apps actually provide alternative access to the gay community.


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  • Given the relative homogeneity on gay SNSs, gay men are more likely to reveal their sexual identity and express their desires. But even so, they do not totally get away from dominant gender norms. In more detailed accounts of gay men's relations to each other, there has been an interest in gay men's app use for sex. Gudelunas argues that dating apps facilitate gay men's ability to seek casual sexual encounters; Tziallas attributes the success of gay dating apps partly to their functioning as amateur porn platforms; Licoppe et al.

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    Sex without a romantic relational commitment does not have to be a single occurrence and can be recurring. New meanings may be given to sex between two men who are not lovers, and new forms of social arrangements may be coming into being.

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    Race a , p. This is a historically distinctive way of arranging erotic and intimate life, which may be approached as a specific infrastructure of intimacy that has erotic, social and communal potentials.

    These devices and practices are participating in the construction of a specific sphere of sociability and amiable acquaintance among men in urban centers that prioritizes sex as a principle mechanism for connection and sociability. Nevertheless, this sociability, or the amiable ambiance among gay men on the apps, seems to be counterbalanced by one's reduced obligation to the other, which is instigated by dating apps' blocking capacity Davis et al. Moreover, as shown in Yeo and Fung's study based in Hong Kong, users who seek more durable relationships can be frustrated by the incongruence between the accelerated tempo of browsing and exchange on apps and the normative tempo prescribing formation of friendships and romantic relationships.


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    • Notably, gay dating app studies have focused on the remediation of gay men's dating practices, and the reformation of social relations among gay men. By contrast, the reconfiguration of artifacts is understudied, as reflected in a lack of comparisons of artifacts in both horizontal and longitudinal dimensions. In the horizontal dimension, many researchers simply frame dating apps as social media or consider apps as similar to dating sites, rather than contrasting dating apps to these analogues.

      This is problematic, given that even the design difference between two dating apps can inspire different interpretations and preferred motives of users MacKee, On other occasions, researchers elaborately delineate the design of dating apps and account for users' practices in relation to the technological context. This is, however, a single static moment cut from the continuous evolvement of dating devices.

      How did dating app designers draw inspiration from prior media forms, such as SNSs and dating sites, as well as people's existing practices? How are dating apps evolving along with users' practices and articulated expectations, and the subtle, gradual transformation of social relations? Questions about the reconfiguration of dating devices for gay men remain to be answered.

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      Even for researchers who are more interested in dating practices and social relations, it is beneficial to consider the continuity of dating devices' lineage as well as the uniqueness that distinguishes dating apps from SNSs and dating sites. Moreover, how is this coevolution locally subjected to social arrangements on the institutional level, such as governmental Internet regulations and gay men's legal position? These changes took place because of governmental regulations and market pressure. Similarly, locality also unfolds in the evolution of gay dating apps developed by Chinese companies.

      On the other hand, studies on the reformation of gay communities and gay social relations can be more fruitful.

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