Virtual Religious Meetings, Actual Endogamy … The Growing Success of Affinity Dating Sites
AbstractDating websites aiming to help singles find romantic and/or sexual partners have grown very rapidly over the last fifteen years. They bring together millions of single people –on average between a half and a third of a country’s singles use or have used them.
A look at the history and evolution of these sites shows us that the first-generation “generalist” sites have given way to sites with an increasingly targeted “offer”, be it on ethnic, religious or sociocultural criteria. These sites are now widespread, allowing singles to search one another out, on pre-established, explicitly communitarian grounds which are often religious. In France (the country where this study has been carried out), sites devoted to the Muslim community are very popular. For example, the Inch Allah and Mektoub websites are used by several hundred thousand people.
This evolution and the success of such websites raise a number of sociological questions. Based on a long-term study carried out by the author, looking into the dynamics of romantic encounters (2 books published in 2004 and 2012), this article will review the major findings and lines of enquiry (methodological, theoretical) into online romantic encounters on these dating websites, showing the respective positions of the sites, the strategies of the individuals online, and the societal questions involved.
Internet; dating sites; sentimental and sexual relations; multiculturalism; endogamy