In this article, we analyse two mobile dating applications: Tinder and Bumble. Mobilizing two studies by Erving Goffman and Lucille Alice Suchman, we present a detailed analysis of the affordances of the profile creation tools of both of these applications. Together, these theoretical perspectives make visible the effect that the constraints imposed by the app’s self-presentation tools have on constructing subjects that are intelligible to the apps’ algorithms and, by implication, its designers and other users. Specifically, through our analysis, we demonstrate how the gender categories made available to users in creating their profiles are reflective of the structural needs of the app’s programming. This work is motivated by two research questions: First, how do the affordances of digital communication tools structure their users’ identities as they are both constructed and performed through the technology? Second, in what ways are notions of gender reflected in the affordances of mobile dating applications’ profile creation tools? Our results indicate that these apps construct gender as a rigid category that has more to do with function (matching profiles) than with identity. Implications for identity and design are discussed.

affordances, Gender, identity, mobile applications, social media
Feminist Media Studies
School of Journalism and Communication

MacLeod, C. (Caitlin), & McArthur, V. (2018). The construction of gender in dating apps: an interface analysis of Tinder and Bumble. Feminist Media Studies, 1–19. doi:10.1080/14680777.2018.1494618