Online sexual partner seeking as a social practice: qualitative evidence from the 4th British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-4)

Reid, D. S. et al. (2022) Online sexual partner seeking as a social practice: qualitative evidence from the 4th British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-4). Journal of Sex Research, 59(8), pp. 1034-1044. (doi: 10.1080/00224499.2021.1994516) (PMID:34792430) (PMCID:PMC9519119)

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Abstract

Once perceived as a means for those unsuccessful at traditional dating, online dating has become normalized as a way to seek sexual or romantic partners. In 2019, we interviewed 40 British adults on the role of digital technologies in their sexual lives; this paper draws on the accounts of 22 who had used such technologies for seeking partners. We analyzed qualitative accounts of online partner seeking as a social practice, drawing on a sample diverse in age, gender and sexual orientation, and informed by sexual script and social practice theory. Our theoretically informed analysis emphasized the multiple meanings and goals involved, the affordances of the technology and individuals’ skills. Our study provided several novel contributions. Young heterosexual people commonly used general social media, rather than dating apps, to meet partners; meeting partners often involved complex interplays between online and offline networks and encounters. Risks were defined not merely in relation to “risky others” but in terms of one’s own actions or attitudes. Participants deployed various skills in minimizing harms such as non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and used self-care skills such as setting limits to engagement.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bosó Pérez, Raquel and Mitchell, Professor Kirstin and Lewis, Dr Ruth
Authors: Reid, D. S., Macdowall, W. G., Lewis, R., Hogan, B., Mitchell, K. R., Bosó Pérez, R., Gibbs, J., Smith, C., Attwood, F., Mercer, C. H., Sonnenberg, P., and Bonell, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Sex Research
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:0022-4499
ISSN (Online):1559-8519
Published Online:18 November 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Sex Research 59(8): 1034-1044
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727631Social Relationships & Health ImprovementLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
727631Social Relationships & Health ImprovementLisa McDaidOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU11HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU18HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit