I am a Ph.D. Candidate of Sociology at UC Berkeley studying online dating, the sharing economy, culture, economic sociology, and social exchange.
My research and ideas have been featured on NPR (Morning Edition, All Things Considered), San Francisco Chronicle, Quartz, GQ, Vox, Mashable, HuffPost, and USA Today.
Broadly, I am interested in understanding how online technologies shape cultural schemas and offline relationships. Currently, I have two ongoing projects:
Finding Love in Algorithmic Society explores the romantic strategies singles deploy when partner-seeking online. By developing a continuum of quantification, with those who use spreadsheets to track, rate, and ‘lovehack’ their dates on one end and those who exclusively rely on intuition, I theorize how individuals today rely on or repel various forms of data and algorithmic-thinking to find romantic companionship.
Sharing Bodies in the Sharing Economy focuses on how bodies are used as a reciprocal tool when for those navigating the sharing economy. Scholarship on sharing largely prioritizes the exchange of commodities and skills, overlooking an integral question—how are bodies shared? To fill this gap, this study hones in on an underexplored, ‘pay-it-forward’ sharing network—Couchsurfing[.com]—to interrogate the gifting of sex in an era of platform capitalism. In the context of Couchsurfing, hosts provide hospitality while guests reciprocate using a variety of gifting strategies, with sex being one of them. To delineate how sex is signaled, appropriated, and negotiated both online and offline, I draw on interviews with Couchsurfers and three years of ethnographic data collected in four continents. I argue that against the predominantly negative and troublesome depictions of sex favored by popular accounts, Couchsurfers themselves render sex in ways that are morally and meaningfully diverse. Depending on an individual’s reciprocal-orientation (generalized, direct, or negative), hosts and guests portray sex as what I conceptualize to be mutuality, transaction, leverage, and/or abuse.