The Role of Dating Site Design in Gendered Self-Representation and Self-Animation in Online Japan

Erika R. Alpert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, I discuss self presentation in online dating, specifically, online dating in Japan. I give particular attention to the question of how the design affordances of particular online dating apps help to partially structure how users construct their own profiles. Profile construction depends in part on what sort of fields have been provided for the user to fill in, as well as on which are mandatory, and which are optional. To some extent, norms of what a dating site is, or can be, or should be, structures the kinds of fields that designers add to the app, so that some are universal and inevitable (a name, age), while others are specific to particular sites and apps, and flexibility in filling out these fields varies. Profile construction also depends on what kinds of guidance are given to users when they create their profiles, upload pictures, or write profile text, whether in the form of rules or suggestions. Guidelines for acceptable pictures or measures of profile completion have an effect on the extent to which users fill out profiles, and what they put in them when they do. We can fruitfully analyze this as a kind of social ‘animation,’ (Silvio 2010), wherein multiple parties collaborate to produce the illusion of a single person or character. Here, users fill out profiles in collaboration with the site and its different constraints, affordances, and display options; the technology mediates and animates the users’ self-presentations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67–79
JournalJournal of Asian Linguistic Anthropology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • linguistic anthropology
  • gender
  • ideology
  • Japan
  • online


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