Current Projects

1. Gender and queer politics in the emerging dating app culture in China [MIT Press, coming out in March 2021]

Momo, Tantan, Blued, Aloha, Rela, Lesdo. These are some of the most popular mobile dating apps in China today. In Politics of Dating Apps, I offer a comprehensive account of dating app use among straight and queer, female and male Chinese urbanites. I argue that dating apps are not merely a platform for seeking romance or hooking up, but also, and more importantly, an arena where gender and queer politics manifest anew.

Drawing from an interdisciplinary body of literature on gender, queer, and technology studies, I foreground the interpretations of dating app users and examine how dating app users make use of the affordances of the technologies specific to their social position. Based on in-depth interviews with dating app users in Guangzhou, a major city in southern China, I document the opportunities and challenges dating apps have presented for women’s empowerment and for men’s reclamation of their gender-based privilege. I also analyze the affects and affordances unique to queer dating app users, linking their experiences of using dating apps with the predicaments they face as sexual minorities in China. I propose “networked sexual publics” as a unifying concept to capture the dynamics of the emerging dating app culture and suggests ways for scholars and students to further investigate this global phenomenon.

As the first book-length monograph on this topic, Politics of Dating Apps is an invaluable contribution to media and communication studies, science and technology studies, gender and queer studies, and Chinese studies.

An earlier version of a chapter of this book has been published in Communication, Culture, and Critique.

  • Liberating or disciplining? A technofeminist analysis on the use of dating apps among women in urban China. Communication, Culture and Critique, 11(2), 298–314. https://doi.org/10.1093/ccc/tcy004

2. Political attitudes and dating app use

In selecting a romantic partner, we often take into consideration our potential partner’s values. From March 2019, Hong Kong society has been divided into the so-called yellow ribbons and blue ribbons. Yellow stands for anti-establishment/Chinese government/Hong Kong police force while blue stands for pro-establishment/Chinese government/Hong Kong police force. How does this political divide affect dating app use and dating preferences? In this preliminary phase of research, through in-depth interviews with self-identified yellow dating app users, I examine their app behaviors in relations to their political attitudes.

3. Racial preferences on gay dating apps

I am part of an interdisciplinary collaborative project team with researchers in the U.S. and Australia to examine the prevalence of sexual racism on gay dating apps. In this study, we are examining self-reported racial preferences and behavioral racial preferences among American and Australian men on Jack’d, a popular gay dating app which positions itself as inclusive. Self-reported racial preferences are those found directly on users’ profiles. Behavioral racial preferences are accessed through the app’s “insight” feature. We wrote a Python scraping code to collect this “insight” data from around 700 users in Los Angeles and 400 users in Sydney. This paper is under review.