Layers of Marginality: An Exploration of Visibility, Impressions, and Cultural Context on Geospatial Apps for Men Who Have Sex With Men in Mumbai, India

Jeremy Birnholtz*, Shruta Rawat, Richa Vashista, Dicky Baruah, Alpana Dange, Anne Marie Boyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Some social technologies can reduce marginality by enabling access to individuals and resources through increased visibility and opportunities for social connection, but visibility carries risks that may be outsized for some marginalized populations. This article reports on a study of location-based social apps (LBSA) used by men who have sex with men (MSM) in Mumbai, India, a legally and socially marginalized population. LBSAs, which facilitate interaction and social connection between physically proximate individuals would seem at first to be a valuable resource in reducing marginality for MSM by connecting otherwise isolated individuals with each other. We explored this from a socio-technical perspective through a qualitative study of MSM in Mumbai, India, who use LBSAs. Results suggest that, as in other contexts, using LBSAs presented formidable risks and challenges such as information security and identification by others, but also could serve as a valuable resource for connecting MSM to each other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • India
  • LGBTQ
  • marginality
  • self-presentation
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications

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