Dr. Gina Potarca

University of Geneva

Dr. Gina Potarca is an Ambizione research fellow. She obtained her PhD degree at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) in 2014. Her research interests revolve around the application of digital, multilevel, and longitudinal methods for the study of assortative mating, the social effects of the digital revolution, and mental health.


Analyst DELab UW

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„Dating onli­ne thro­ugh either websi­tes, pho­ne apps, or onli­ne social networks is now both com­mon and social­ly endor­sed (Berg­ström 2012; Smith 2016). In cer­ta­in con­te­xts (e.g., U.S.), it has even recen­tly beco­me the num­ber one way of meeting part­ners (Rosen­feld et al. 2019). Social scien­ti­sts have alre­ady poin­ted out some of the social trans­for­ma­tions bro­ught abo­ut by onli­ne dating. Inter­net-mat­ched hete­ro­se­xu­al couples for instan­ce expe­rien­ce faster trans­i­tions into mar­ria­ge (Rosen­feld 2017), and display less homo­ga­my in terms of socio-demo­gra­phic back­gro­und (Potar­ca 2017, 2020; Tho­mas 2019). Tho­ugh so far une­xplo­red, an addi­tio­nal anti­ci­pa­ted trans­for­ma­tion is the chal­len­ging of gen­de­red rela­tion­ship prac­ti­ces (Har­dey 2002). Despi­te advan­ces in women’s edu­ca­tion, labor for­ce par­ti­ci­pa­tion, and ear­ning power (England et al. 2020), and near­ly uni­ver­sal pre­fe­ren­ces towards equ­ity in the allo­ca­tion of house­work (Auspurg et al. 2017), women still do more house­work than men (Geist and Rup­pan­ner 2018; Hu 2019).

Thro­ugh its uni­que featu­res (e.g., lar­ger cho­ice set, con­di­tions of ano­ny­mi­ty, com­pa­ti­bi­li­ty mat­ching), onli­ne court­ship might allow indi­vi­du­als, espe­cial­ly women, to bet­ter nego­tia­te dating scripts and poten­tial­ly bypass nor­ma­ti­ve rela­tion­ship expec­ta­tions of fema­le part­ners car­ry­ing the load of house­work. Within a spa­ce that allows for more fine-tuned cho­ices, indi­vi­du­als could reject conven­tio­nal gen­de­red norms in an effort to con­struct inti­ma­cy out­si­de of social­ly sanc­tio­ned prac­ti­ces. By pro­vi­ding incre­ased infor­ma­tion on poten­tial can­di­da­tes than usu­al­ly ava­ila­ble in face-to-face meeting con­te­xts, the onli­ne mar­ket­pla­ce could esta­blish itself as a part­ne­ring spa­ce whe­re women select men on non-eco­no­mic con­si­de­ra­tions (Press 2004), such as good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills or abi­li­ty to pro­vi­de emo­tio­nal sup­port (Law­son and Leck 2006). Given the link betwe­en high levels of emo­tio­nal inti­ma­cy and part­ner­ship com­mu­ni­ca­tion quali­ty, on the one hand, and the equ­al allo­ca­tion of house­work, on the other hand (Carl­son et al. 2020; Kom­ter 1989), the result would be onli­ne daters cra­fting more ega­li­ta­rian rela­tion­ships than tho­se selec­ting part­ners in conven­tio­nal ways.

To test this hypo­the­sis, the cur­rent stu­dy uses up-to-date panel data on mar­ried adults (N = 2,243 indi­vi­du­als, n = 6,418 obse­rva­tions) from Ger­ma­ny – pair­fam waves I‑XI (2008 to 2019) – and inspects the link betwe­en meeting con­text and the pro­ba­bi­li­ty of enga­ging in an ega­li­ta­rian divi­sion of house­hold labor as oppo­sed to the tra­di­tio­nal arran­ge­ment in which the wife takes over all or most of the char­ge. We spe­ci­fi­cal­ly exa­mi­ne the allo­ca­tion of house­work, a high­ly gen­de­red, tra­di­tio­nal­ly fema­le-per­for­med task (Hook 2017). We also exa­mi­ne gen­der and social class dif­fe­ren­ces (defi­ned by level of edu­ca­tion), and acco­unt for mecha­ni­sms of social homo­ga­my as well as vario­us sour­ces of onli­ne dating selectivity.

The stu­dy pro­vi­des the first quan­ti­ta­ti­ve and natio­nal­ly repre­sen­ta­ti­ve evi­den­ce of whe­ther onli­ne dating trans­forms gen­de­red prac­ti­ces in mar­ria­ge. Par­ti­cu­lar­ly on the back­drop of a stal­led gen­der revo­lu­tion (Cot­ter et al. 2011; England 2010; Gold­sche­ider et al. 2015), in a con­text known for the per­si­sten­ce of the male bre­adwin­ner and the one-and-a-half ear­ner models (Esping-Ander­sen 2018; Hook 2015), and whe­re high-ear­ning women often enga­ge in gen­der-com­pen­sa­to­ry beha­vior (Pro­cher et al. 2018), it is impor­tant to inqu­ire whe­ther the Inter­net as alter­na­ti­ve public spa­ce assi­sts adults in decon­struc­ting tra­di­tio­nal fami­ly models in gene­ral, and gen­der-asym­me­tric scripts of divi­ding unpa­id work within mar­ria­ge in par­ti­cu­lar. In other words, we seek to iden­ti­fy whe­ther advan­ces in the digi­tal revo­lu­tion can serve as tools in advan­cing the gen­der revolution.

First results based on ran­dom effects mode­ling indi­ca­te that lower (and not higher) edu­ca­ted women who met the­ir part­ner onli­ne do enga­ge in a less tra­di­tio­nal split of house­work. The results are lar­ge­ly rela­ted to selec­ti­vi­ty (e.g., in terms of gen­der valu­es), but also, as pre­dic­ted, bet­ter mat­ching on emo­tio­nal attributes.

A series of Polish-language meetings during which researchers and guest speakers look at issues related to digital transformation, new technologies, innovation and digital research methods.

The aim of the "Digitisation under the closer look of science" seminars is to build cooperation between academia, the public sector and business. Scientists share their research findings and have the opportunity to discuss them with experts. The results of their work are available on the DELab UW website.

University of Geneva
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