Corey Johnson, University of Waterloo – Geo-Social Dating Apps

Dating practices are being changed again by Geo-social networking applications.

Corey Johnson, professor in the department of recreation and leisure studies at the University of Waterloo, takes a look at this new landscape.

My theorizing and qualitative inquiry focuses its attention on the power relations between dominant (white, male, heterosexual, etc.) and non-dominant populations in the cultural contexts of leisure. This examination provides important insight into both the privileging and discriminatory practices that occur in contemporary leisure settings. I also see my research as complimentary to both classroom instruction and professional service, and I use advocacy, activism, civic-engagement, service-learning and community partnerships to create unique learning opportunities for individuals and institutions. This synergy is particularly relevant as it increases the quality, level, and number of services offered in a given community.

Geo-Social Dating Apps

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The introduction of new innovations like cars, telephones, birth control pills, and the internet have changed dating practices dramatically throughout history. And now with the use of Geo-social networking applications (or GSNA’s), dating practices are changing again. GSNAs use cell phones and satellites to create computer-mediated communication whereby users exchange a series of electronic messages and participate in relational activities starting in cyberspace. GSNAs boast millions of users, and yet, there is little research exploring their influence on the individual and culture.

Therefore, my project team conducted semi-structured interviews with 35 GSNA users chosen to achieve diversity across gender and sexual identity. What we’ve found is 1.) GSNA’s facilitate new social, romantic, and sexual connections, especially useful for connecting individuals from marginalized populations where its hard to locate partners. 2.) GSNA’s also make the process of courtship more efficient and less laborious, affording users greater control over interactions. 3.) sexual and non-sexual, encounters contribute to mutual feelings of closeness. 4.) many used GSNA’s to arrange hook-ups with strangers, but suggested casual sex was not antithetical to establishing intimacy and argued that creating a sense of closeness prior to sex promotes feelings of familiarity, trust, and reciprocity.

As our inquiry and analysis dive deeper, we hope to more broadly understand similarities and difference according to different sexual and gender identities and the importance of both context and country.

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