Online dating and intimacy in a mobile world

Barraket, Jo & Henry-Waring, Millsom (2006) Online dating and intimacy in a mobile world. In Colic-Peisker, V, McNamara, B, & Tilbury, F (Eds.) Sociology for a mobile world: proceedings of The Australian Sociological Association 2006 Conference, The Australian Sociological Association (TASA), University of Western Australia & Murdoch University, pp. 1-10.


The nature and possibilities for intimacy between adults are changing in the mobile era. Bauman (2003) has decreed this the era of ‘liquid love’, in which intimacy is commodified and committed relationships have been replaced by fleeting connections. In contrast, Giddens (1991; 1993) suggests that the reordering of everyday life in late-stage modernity has given rise to the possibility of a democratization of interpersonal interaction, characterized by reflexive ‘pure relationships’. The purpose of this paper is to consider theoretical debates about intimacy in the mobile era with regard to the contemporary practice of online dating. Drawing on our qualitative research with 23 online daters in Australia, we argue that, while the architecture of online dating is consistent with liquid love, many online daters simultaneously desire the possibilities for consumption afforded by liquid love, while aspiring to the formation of pure relationships and/or more practical forms of caring. This creates tensions in people’s experiences of this form of purposeful meeting, which are reflective of the conflicting socialities of intimacy available to us in the mobile era. At the same time, our research revealed disruptions to these tensions, by illuminating experiences where the consumerist orientation of online dating stimulated processes of reflexive self-discovery amongst our participants.

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ID Code: 48380
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISBN: 1-74052-139-0
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Deposited On: 31 Jan 2012 06:37
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 18:27

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