The University of Massachusetts Amherst


Distinguished Faculty Lecture | Jennifer Lundquist

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 4:00pm

Jennifer Lundquist, Professor of Sociology and SBS Senior Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, has been selected for the 2021-2022 Distinguished Faculty Lecture series.

Romantic Apartheid? Online Dating as an Agent for Social Change

How do racial attitudes shape our most intimate interactions and decisions? Professor Lundquist shows how the conflux of individualization, consumerism, and fast-moving technologies gives rise to a unique form of digital sexual racism - one that disguises enduring racial discrimination in intimate life as merely random individual preference. She argues that such preferences are not individual at all; in fact, they are patterned and predictable, a reflection of the nation's long history of anti-miscegenation law.

Dating platforms are one of the only contexts left in modern U.S. society where it remains acceptable to check off racial preferences and exclusions. Along with the hidden role of matching algoriths, we see a systematic segregation of what could otherwise have been a much more racially integrated cyberspace. In this lecture, based on her recent book coauthored with two UMass graduates, Lundquist reveals the dynamics at play in digital dating spaces - and suggests pathways forward to change.