CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Online dating sites appeared in France at the turn of the twenty-first century and are widely used today. They extend the geographical scope of meeting places but also introduce a new dating scenario. This new organization of dating makes it difficult to apply the conventional explanatory model of homogamy. First, with little social and spatial segregation, the sites seem to eliminate the mediation of venues of sociability in couple formation. Used by socially heterogeneous individuals, they appear to de-segregate the romantic and sexual market. Second, written communication and the absence of face-to-face interaction radically change the mode of partner evaluation. Although the sites change the conditions for dating, they nevertheless tend to introduce socially similar partners. The article presents the way this homogamy is produced online. The analysis reveals a social selection organized in three sequential steps: user profile evaluation, written communication, and physical encounter. Specific mechanisms of selection are at work at each of these stages that, just like offline situations, result in homogamous matching.

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