Agency and structure in digitally-mediated dating. A case study of Tinder
Maria Stoicescu 
|Abstract: When using a dating app, users must adapt to the dynamic contained within its digital structure and balance the potential benefits against the perceived disadvantages. With a broad palette of dating app options, users distinguish and describe existing dating technologies in specific ways. Inspired by this idea, this study analyzes the structural elements that may influence the audience’s understanding of a dating app and shape the user experience. By employing Giddens’s structuration theory (1986), I have mapped the main structural elements through which the dating activity on Tinder is organized. The results show that six main structure dimensions may influence and shape users’ perception and participation: (1) app identity, (2) business model, (3) design elements, (4) app pattern, (5) features, and (6) the machine learning algorithm. Tinder proposes a flexible approach to dating, promising to address a wide range of user needs. Using a dating narrative, the company offers a digital space for meeting new people, designed to maximize engagement. The proposed organization of digital dating is successful from an economic point of view. Through the global success of this system, Tinder not only shapes how users meet, but offers a successful template for other similar businesses to follow. Thus, Tinder’s technological design and business strategies become the rules of the dating game, leading to its increasing rationalization through quantification and a focus on scale and speed.
Keywords: Structuration theory; Dating apps; Tinder; Agency and structure; Design; App identity;
 Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest, Romania, firstname.lastname@example.org.