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“Off-label”: Tinder as a Method for Ethnographic Research

With Branwen Spector
1 Nov 2021
With Branwen Spector

This paper explores the use of dating apps, specifically Tinder, in conducting research remotely. Initially undertaken as a response to physical and emotional limits in conducing research on communities of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, the paper draws on the researcher’s experiences to argue for the benefit of dating apps in wider ethnographic use. By relying on remote connections forged through user profiles for research rather than dating purposes, this paper applies the concept of “off-label” uses of phenomena, ideas, and goods to dating apps. The paper necessarily engages with the safety and ethical concerns of this practice, while also offering a critique of anthropological taboos around the inclusion of researchers’ sexual subjectivities in published work.



Branwen Spector

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics

Branwen is is the co-founder of The New Ethnographer - a blog and consultancy that writes and teaches about challenges facing contemporary researchers - and of the LSE Digital Ethnography Collective.

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