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Masculinities and Femininities: Romance and Authenticity on American Dating Apps



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The phenomenon of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr display the way image-based technologies allow for a new visual literacy. This study investigates how the experience of using dating applications (apps) related to Giddens’s notion of romance and explored the way visual literacy was constructed through discourses of authenticity. How do young Americans construct their social worlds through everyday actions and interactions on dating apps? How is romance re-conceptualized through dating apps, and what are the consequences of dating apps on gender identity and courtship?

A qualitative, mixed methods approach was used to gather data. An online survey was distributed and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Results were triangulated to gain insight on notions of romance, gender identity, and visual literacy based on discussions of image codes and dating app use. The sample was Americans and people living America between ages 20-29 who used dating apps.

The research demonstrates that the journalistic media’s discourses perpetuate stigmas of dating apps as virtual spaces for hooking up, when in fact they are used in complex ways that sustain notions of romance and solidify feelings of identity. Additionally, it establishes that authenticity is a primary factor in selecting profile images and communicating on dating apps.





Dow, Katie


dating apps, Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, dating app, online dating, dating, gender studies, romance, authenticity, sociology, Giddens, technology, communication, visual communication, visual literacy, apps, gender, profile pictures, Katz


Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge