Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Sexuality and the Digital Platform Economy begins with the question, “how does the internet drive sexual behavior and ideas about sexuality?” In answer to this question, I argue we must consider user-facing platform design when we talk about internet culture and the digital technology and media industries as writers of sexual norms. My analysis centers on memes, audiovisual media, popular journalism, social media chatter, and interpretations of the coded logics of platform features, which I close read to map trends and patterns in sexual discourse. Reading through these artifacts of internet culture, I argue that the contemporary digital platform and its impact on communication is the most dominant force scripting sexuality at this moment in history. This dissertation encourages the field of Sexuality Studies to perform platform-centered analysis when considering the impact of the commercial internet on contemporary sexuality. My project continues work considering the impact of economic forces on sexuality, drawing from existing scholarship on sexuality under capitalism. For my more focused study of platform capitalism—a term that can describe our current moment, where raw user data derived from internet activity exists now as a new form of capital—I focus on applications and sites many people experience and use to communicate daily: Snapchat, Instagram, Pornhub, and TikTok.



Committee Chair

Kahan, Benjamin



Available for download on Monday, April 22, 2030