Digital Intimacy: Young Women and Social Transformation in Asia


Tejaswini NIRANJANA
This project seeks to investigate how young women understand and experience intimacy in the age of social media.  Specifically, it looks at negotiations around the institutions of family, marriage, and tertiary education, all three of which appear to be undergoing profound transformation due to digital mediation. It will carry out a multi-sited study of young university-going women in four cities: Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Singapore, and Bangalore, chosen for their high percentage of social media usage in Asia among women in the 18-30 age group. It will focus on three aspects of social media, namely microblogging, file-sharing and services (eg., provided by dating apps), as well as on communicative media (eg., WeChat, WhatsApp, Instagram), deploying in-depth, qualitative methodologies to generate rich site-specific data. Using a qualitative ethnographic approach, the project will track 120 women (30 in each of the 4 locations) over 24 months to throw new light on emerging practices of digital intimacy, with specific reference to how young, college-going women cultivate a digital persona of their selves, and how such personae forge new ways of negotiating and navigating the realms of courtship/marriage, kinship/family and university education.

Co-Investigators
BAI Meijiadai, Holly HOU Lixian, Ritty LUKOSE, Nitya VASUDEVAN, Audrey YUE 

Research Assistants
Farah Binti Gulam Hussain BAWANY, CHUNG Man Yin, Chinmayi RAMAIAH