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While engaging with ‘end users’ is an obvious approach to studying mobile dating and hook-up apps, in this paper we model a comparative platform analysis approach that accounts for the roles and relations of non-human actors and symbolic representations as well. This approach brings together software studies and science and technology studies with cultural studies and queer media studies. We engage a novel ‘walk-through’ method incorporating close textual readings of four hookup apps, in combination with Actor-Network Theory informed analysis, supplemented by archival and ancillary media research. We deploy a temporal approach to the comparative analysis: getting in (enrolment - sign up and registration), getting on (browsing, searching and orientation), and getting off (matching, messaging, and meeting up). We thus generate insights about the interplay between design, cultural norms, and sexual subcultures as well as new perspectives on the broader cultural economy of mobile media.
Jean Burgess (@jeanburgess) is Associate Professor of Digital Media at Queensland University of Technology, where she is also the Director of Research Training for the Creative Industries Faculty. Her research focuses on the cultures and politics of social and mobile media platforms, and new methods for studying them. Her books include YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Polity Press, 2009), Studying Mobile Media: Cultural Technologies, Mobile Communication, and the iPhone (Routledge, 2012), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and Twitter and Society (Peter Lang, 2014).
Ben Light (@doggyb) is Professor of Digital Media Studies, in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. His research concerns how digital media and users make arrangements work for them beyond the design room. Currently, he is leading the MMADM.org project which seeks to interrogate people’s gendered experiences of a variety of digital media. He is a senior editor for the Journal of Information Technology and sits of the editorial board of New Media and Society. His books include: Online Gaming in Context: The Social and Cultural Significance of Online Games (Routledge 2011) and Disconnecting with Social Networking Sites, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
Stefanie Duguay (@DugStef) is a doctoral researcher in Digital Media Studies and a member of the Social Media Research Group at the Queensland University of Technology. A recent graduate of the Oxford Internet Institute, her research focuses on the formation of publics and counterpublics through social media with particular attention to its implications for sexual identity disclosure and queer visibility. She has published work in New Media and Society, Canadian Review of Sociology and Disability and Society.