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How Sexual Racism and Other Discriminatory Behaviors are Rationalized in Online Dating Apps
Deviant Behavior  (IF1.982),  Pub Date : 2022-01-04, DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2021.2019566
Christopher T. Conner


Using a multi-sited, multiple methods, and qualitative research design (including participant-observation, in-depth interviews, and analysis of online dating profiles) I examine how users engage in and justify discriminatory actions in the gay dating app “Grindr.” This paper also explores how the app allows for new ways that members can engage in these practices by blocking, filtering, and ignoring users. My findings consider the way mobile dating apps are structured to promote evaluating, and stigmatize, other users and promote a sexual hierarchy rooted in heteronormative gender roles. I also argue, based on these findings, that users normalize this behavior by constructing a culture that tolerates this behavior. Users that I interviewed justify their discriminatory behaviors (including racism, sexism, fat shaming, and discrimination against users who are HIV+) by reframing them in a sense similar to those discussed by proponents of neutralization theory. This paper contributes to the established literature on digital communication technologies by arguing that, rather than decreasing discriminatory behaviors, applications like Grindr achieve the opposite. I conclude with a consideration of how my findings expand interactionist understandings of social life, sexual capital, and online experiences.