The state of affairs: critical performativity and the online dating industry

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    In this paper we pursue a dialogue between Callon’s (1998) ‘performativity thesis’ and Critical Management Studies (CMS). We make use of the performativity thesis to elaborate on the construction of a market and the generation of calculative and rational economic agency in a specific empirical setting: the markets for relationships offered by dating services. We find evidence for ‘effective’ performativity, where technical processes and outcomes are shaped by academic theory. We link the performativity analysis with three critical perspectives: a novel enclosure in the commodification and sale of relationships; the politics of standardisation, classification, expertise and responsibility; and the enactment of instrumentally rational, self-interested social relations through the individualist assumptions of matching systems. We argue that a performativity analysis must begin with a critical politics: what kind of world would we like to see performed?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)797-820
    Issue number6
    Early online date3 May 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


    • Critical management studies
    • Performativity
    • Online dating
    • Markets
    • Economization


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