Tinder – a binary framework of thought

November 15, 2018



In the article Becoming Infrastructural, Ross Exo Adams argues that society has departed from a modernistic way of thinking about the body, structuring the world and has entered a new era of resilient urbanism. In this new society, the body and its environments are entangled to the degree that they are indistinguishable from one another and the body has become a site for intervention and design. Control over people is exercised through a participatory form of self-governance that fits into the complexity of human life. Consequently, the body has become both the subject and the object of design and it is difficult to separate human life from its technological modulation. In short, the era of resilient urbanism is the urbanisation of the body.

In her bookGender Trouble, Judith Butler states that gender identity is performative. By this she means that gender is socially constructed by a compulsive repetition of acts. The range of acts that is possible for the subject to perform is already socially established and keeps gender within a binary frame of masculine and feminine. The acts shouldn’t be understood as the result of the subject expressing its identity but to be the constitutive construction of the subject’s identity. Butler argues that the cultural understanding of human nature as binary is part of a strategy to hide the possibility of performatively constructing gender outside of masculine and heterosexual dominance.

The illustration above is a simplified representation of Tinder’s wireframe. It demonstrates how Tinder engages its users to construct their gender identity within a rigid binary framework of thought. Representations of gender ambiguities are unconceivable within the logic of Tinder.

Drawing from the arguments in Adams article and Judith Butler’s queer theory, could Tinder be understood as an every day participatory form of self-governance, working within in a larger societal structure, with the goal of maintaining people within binary power relations, masculine and heterosexual dominance?

Lastly, does Tinder’s rigid mental model that makes its users categorize themselves within stable and binary options produce reality? With its 50 million users and 1,6 billion swipes per day, does Tinder consolidate a binary masculine–feminine infrastructure of human relations, gender identity and way of thinking about the world?


Task 1

Agnes Rosengren


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