Yifeng Cai G'18
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Pre-dissertation Grants for Research in China 2018
Transactional Sex on the Phone: Technology, Market Economy, and the Transformation of Male-to-Male Intimacy in Contemporary Urban China
The use of WeChat and hook-up apps such as Blue’d and Grindr increasingly transforms the structure and contributes to the development of male-to-male transactional sex in contemporary urban China. No longer necessarily bound to a physical venue, these technological advancements on the phone facilitate the buying and selling of queer sex, potentially allowing more people to engage in the commerce of sex. Through participant observation, open-ended interviews, and archival research, this project studies how the development of market economy and information & communication technologies such as smartphone apps transforms Chinese gay men's understandings of, and practices in, male-to-male transactional sex, exploring the relationship between capitalism, technology, and intimacy.