WHO AM I

I am a Ph.D. Candidate of Sociology at UC Berkeley studying online dating, the sharing economy, technology, 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 how individuals rely on algorithmic-thinking to make decisions on ‘when to commit’ in the age of digital romance. Singles today often bemoan that online dating has reduced romantic pursuits to a ‘numbers game.’ They say that dating apps have made an overwhelming amount of people available at the touch of their fingertips, but knowing when to stop ‘relationshopping’ and start ‘relationshipping’ has become a great source of disquietude. Taking my research to metropolises such as Shanghai and New York, I ask: how do people respond to and/or play the numbers game? What kind of schemas are urbanites relying on to make dating-related decisions? Furthermore, how do the technologization and quantification of one of life’s most intimate affairs shape modern understandings of selfhood and relationality?

Sharing Bodies in the Sharing Economy is a study focusing on how bodies are used as a reciprocal tool when individuals navigate the sharing economy. Scholarship on the sharing economy largely prioritizes the exchange of commodities and skills, overlooking an integral question—how are bodies shared? In the rare occasion that corporeal concerns are touched upon, debates tend to situate practices within the sharing economy as cases of conventional labor or work fraught with inequalities. This study goes beyond such explorations by honing in on an underexplored, ‘pay-it-forward’ sharing network—Couchsurfing[.com]—to interrogate how bodies are shared through the gifting of sexual labor 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.

PUBLICATIONS

Refereed Articles

Watson, Ryan J., Snapp, Shannon D.*, & Wang, Skyler*. 2017. “What We Know and Where To Go From Here: A Review of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Hookup Literature.” Sex Roles, 77(11- 12), 801-811.
(*Dr. Snapp and I contributed equally as co-authors.)

 

Other Academic Publications

Wang, Skyler. 2016. “Igniting a ‘Pink Dot’: Legal Pragmatism and Cultural Resonance in Singapore’s First LGBT Movement.” Sojourners, 8, 4-14.

Best Article – Francesco Duina Scholarship Award

Wang, Skyler. 2016. “A Critique from Within: The Core of Ai Weiwei’s ‘Sunflower Seeds.’” Undergraduate Journal of Art History & Visual Culture, (7), 10-17.


Policy Reports

MacAulay, Maggie & Wang, Skyler. 2016. #ResistStigma: How Do We Get There? Vancouver, BC: Community-Based Research Center for Gay Men’s Health.
English | Français


Public Sociology

Wang, Skyler. 2020. “Covid-19 is adding an unexpected urgency to how we date.” Quartz. Published May 8.

Wang, Skyler. 2017. “The Pink Dot Redrawn.” The Middle Ground. Published Jun 9. 

Wang, Skyler. 2016. “Progressives must leave Echo Chamber to Trump Hate.” The Daily Californian. Published Nov 18.

Wang, Skyler. 2016. “The Purpose of Studying Love Sociologically: A Pedagogical Experiment.” Queer Voices. Published Oct 27.

Wang, Skyler. 2016. “The Missing Puzzle: Environmentalism in An Era of Identity Politics.” Climate Refuge. Published April 15. 

Wang, Skyler. 2015. “A Sea of Change: UBC as a Hotbed for Evolving Views on Homosexuality.” The Ubyssey. Published September 16. 

INTERVIEWS

TEACHING

I teach a university seminar called “What Makes You Click: The Sociology of Online Dating.” The course focuses on using sociological perspectives to help students understand the broad cultural patterns and implications of an ever-evolving tech and data-driven orientation towards relationship formation.

This class will be offered in Spring 2021 at UC Berkeley. Previously, I have taught it at the University of British Columbia.

Stepping outside of the university, I also frequently give public lectures and private talks on the topic of online dating. During my free time, I enjoy mentoring individuals who seek to use a data-driven approach to bolster their online dating game.

CV


Curriculum Vitae

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