Liquid love? Dating apps, sex, relationships and the digital transformation of intimacy

Mitchell Hobbs*, Stephen Owen, Livia Gerber

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    153 Citations (Scopus)


    In Liquid Love Zygmunt Bauman argued that the solidity and security once provided by life-long partnerships has been ‘liquefied’ by rampant individualisation and technological change. He believes internet dating is symptomatic of social and technological change that transforms modern courtship into a type of commodified game. This article explores the experiences of users of digital dating and hook-up applications (or ‘apps’) in order to assess the extent to which a digital transformation of intimacy might be under way. It examines the different affordances provided by dating apps, and whether users feel the technology has influenced their sexual practices and views on long-term relationships, monogamy and other romantic ideals. This study shows that dating apps are intermediaries through which individuals engage in strategic performances in pursuit of love, sex and intimacy. Ultimately, this article contends that some accounts of dating apps and modern romantic practices are too pessimistic, and downplay the positives of ‘networked intimacy’.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)271-284
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Sociology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


    • courtship
    • dating apps
    • hook-up apps
    • relationships
    • sexual behaviour
    • social media


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