New Media – New Intimacies (NewMI)


NewMI focuses on online practices of intimacies. By investigating how social media construct new types of intimacies, NewMI will contribute knowledge and theoretical insights intoDanish and international research. New social media, characterized by user-generated content, interactivity, participation and community formation, has gained much research attention in recent years. At the same time, intimacy is increasingly becoming a field of study. But the interconnections between the two areas – and the ways social media and intimacies continuously become interwoven and influence each other – are rarely studied in detail. This project aims at filling this lacuna. The project is a three-year collaboration project between young scholars at Roskilde University, University of Copenhagen and University of Southern Denmark. The project is financed by the Danish Council for Independent Research’s Sapere Aude-program.

The organization of intimate relations (e.g. families) continuously changes in relation to measures of late-modernity, resulting in new understandings of intimacies. New media technologies allow people to connect – and to represent their intimate relations – in new ways. Importantly, media and intimacy function in a ‘feedback loop’; social media offer new ways to do intimacy, and in turn, new practices of intimacy shape the development and uses of social media. There is, however, a lack of both empirical analysis of virtual intimacies as well as theories to grasp the formations and transformations of intimacy in social media. NewMI seeks to elevate Denmark’s role in the fields of digital communication and intimacy by developing new theories and research on the crucial role of social media in fostering various types of human relationships.

Research questions and empirical material

The intersection of practices of intimacy and social media is the starting point for NewMI. Our overall focus is: How do social media construct intimacies? This is explored through two research questions:

1. How do social media create and facilitate new practices of intimacy?
2. How are traditional practices of intimacy re-developed and re-negotiated through social media?

We will explore these research questions through six empirical subprojects (P1-6) and one dissemination subproject (P7), all of which utilize different media sites, as well as newintimate practices, representations and relations. These include Social media (e.g. Facebook), Internet forums (e.g. dr.dk), web cam sites (e.g. cam4.com), dating sites (e.g. flirtfair.dk), and geographically tagging and image based mobile applications (e.g. Instagram). These different sites can all be understood as intimate public spheres; each of these sites deconstructs the traditional distinction between private and public, and explores how affective experiences of proximity and belonging are produced, maintained, and negotiated. All subprojects are in dialogue with five overarching project themes, which facilitate connections between the different empirical materials: sexual intimacies, dating intimacies, bodily intimacies, family intimacies and global migrating intimacies. These five themes all represent fields where media and intimacies merge; by tracing these themes over a diverse selection of social media and a range of intimate practices, we will produce in-depth answers to the central research questions.

  NewMI have several research areas - read more here

Last update April 17, 2015, by Rikke Andreassen.