Constructing Intimate Fields: Chinese Gay Men’s Dating Techniques Among Pluralized Dating Apps

Article Information

Shangwei Wu, Department of Media and correspondence, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Woudestein, Van der Goot Building, M8-16, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, Holland. E-mail: [email protected]

  • Abstract
  • Complete Text
  • Sources
  • PDF


In this research, we draw on intimate industry concept to look at the structural nature of metropolitan Chinese homosexual men’s mobile dating techniques in a polymedia environment which you could access a range of dating apps. We define structures of desire into the field that is sexual not merely the transpersonal valuations of desirability but in addition the dominance of particular desires that coordinate actors’ expectations and techniques. Predicated on interviews with 52 urban Chinese homosexual men, we talk about the differing structures of desire hosted by four dating apps: Aloha, Blued, Grindr, and Tinder. Our analysis suggests that facets such as for instance design features of dating apps, advertising methods of app businesses, and internet laws have shaped the structures of desire by unevenly dispersing the working platform usage of users across social classes and territorial divisions and (dis)enabling specific communicative practices in collective life that is sexual various extents. The display that is distance-sorted of users plays a part in the predominance of instant hook-ups on Blued and Grindr, even though the matching mechanism of Aloha and Tinder functions as a “speed bump” and nourishes users’ objectives for enduring connections. As Blued is considered the most popular gay relationship software in the heavily guarded Chinese internet market, the variety of its users drives away numerous metropolitan middle-class homosexual males whom just want their very own type. In contrast, Aloha, Grindr, and Tinder, with smaller user bases, tend to be more specific intimate web web sites where in actuality the principal money of intimate capital reflects the form of the standard that is middle-class “quality.”


Cellphone dating applications, or “dating apps,” play a role that is significant homosexual men’s dating everyday lives . You can find abundant relationship apps for homosexual males, such as for instance Blued, Grindr, Hornet, Jack’d, Scruff, and Tinder. Such a polymedia environment which you could access a myriad of dating apps, just just just how men that are gay these apps and select specific people due to their dating methods remains to be fully talked about. Past research indicates indications of differentiation. On a single hand, divisions occur among individual groups clustered around various apps. Dividing lines can align with all the boundaries of subgroups inside the community that is queer as shown in exactly just how Scruff is geared towards the “bear” team. They could also overlap with nationwide boundaries, as noticed in just how the app that is chinese flourishes in China’s heavily protected internet industry. The case that is former the steering role of advertising methods while the latter illustrates the dividing force of neighborhood government laws.

The ways gay men use these apps seem to differ on the other hand. As revealed in MacKee’s research, homosexual guys in London have a tendency to utilize Tinder for “serious” dating, as they usually utilize Grindr for hook-ups. This partly benefits through the design that is different of those two apps. At that time whenever MacKee’s research ended up being carried out, Tinder required users to login making use of their Facebook reports, importing profile images straight from Facebook; in addition invited users to connect their pages to Instagram records. This constituted an identification verification system that discouraged users to either promote themselves or act in a manner that is hypersexualized. Although Tinder now permits users to register with regards to telephone numbers, whether this influences the founded patterns that are dating to be investigated. In contrast, Grindr affords a greater level of privacy, making users feel much more comfortable presenting on their own intimately; its distance-sorted design provides convenience for instant hook-ups. Therefore, design top features of dating apps somewhat influence homosexual users’ dating practices.

The unit among individual teams additionally the differentiation of practical priorities suggest that particular structures are located in homosexual men’s online dating sites practices. These practices show some enduring patterns of gay men’s desiring and being desired in other words. By shaping the landscape of dating apps, factors such as for instance advertising methods of app organizations, neighborhood regulations that are governmental and design attributes of dating apps—which themselves are impacted by the previous two factors—participate within the shaping of this structures in internet dating practices. To explore these structures would be to know the way technical, commercial, and regulatory forces condition gay men’s collective intimate life.

This research explores the abovementioned shaping procedure. Drawing on intimate industry theory, we framework dating apps as “sites associated with field that is sexual together with abovementioned structures as “structures of desire.” Particularly, we concentrate on Asia, that has witnessed both the dominance of neighborhood dating apps and the resilience of international apps. As localization and globalization together contour the landscape of dating apps, structures of desire in online dating sites may also be at the mercy of both of these styles. Certainly, not just could be the nationwide context extremely determining, but this context it self could be based on tensions, as an example, between rural and metropolitan populations, and across social strata. Quite simply, it makes sense presenting the dating application scene in Asia as pluralized, where local/global tensions co-exist with local/local people.

Taking into consideration the above, our research real question is, “How would be the structures of desire in Chinese homosexual men’s techniques with dating apps shaped by technical, commercial, and regulatory forces?” Because of the data that are limited we give attention to middle-class gay guys staying in metropolises. Within the next two parts, we review the literary works on intimate industry concept, define structures of desire, and framework dating apps as virtual web web web sites regarding the intimate industry.