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Journal cover: Information Technology & People

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Online from: 1982

Subject Area: Information and Knowledge Management

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Gay men, Gaydar and the commodification of difference

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Title:Gay men, Gaydar and the commodification of difference
Author(s):Ben Light, (IS, Organisations and Society Research Centre, University of Salford, Salford, UK), Gordon Fletcher, (IS, Organisations and Society Research Centre, University of Salford, Salford, UK), Alison Adam, (IS, Organisations and Society Research Centre, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Citation:Ben Light, Gordon Fletcher, Alison Adam, (2008) "Gay men, Gaydar and the commodification of difference", Information Technology & People, Vol. 21 Iss: 3, pp.300 - 314
Keywords:Homosexuals, Internet, Men, Sexuality, Social networks
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09593840810896046 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate information communications technologies (ICT)-mediated inclusion and exclusion in terms of sexuality through a study of a commercial social networking web site for gay men.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses an approach based on technological inscription and the commodification of difference to study Gaydar, a commercial social networking site.

Findings – Through the activities, events and interactions offered by Gaydar, the study identifies a series of contrasting identity constructions and market segmentations that are constructed through the cyclic commodification of difference. These are fuelled by a particular series of meanings attached to gay male sexualities which serve to keep gay men positioned as a niche market.

Research limitations/implications – The research centres on the study of one, albeit widely used, web site with a very specific set of purposes. The study offers a model for future research on sexuality and ICTs.

Originality/value – This study places sexuality centre stage in an ICT-mediated environment and provides insights into the contemporary phenomenon of social networking. As a sexualised object, Gaydar presents a semiosis of politicised messages that question heteronormativity while simultaneously contributing to the definition of an increasingly globalised, commercialised and monolithic form of gay male sexuality defined against ICT.

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