New Media – New Intimacies (NewMI)


Creating families through online social media

Rikke Andreassen, associate professor, PhD, Roskilde University

Rikke Andreassen

How do social media foster new family relations and formations? How are biology, kinship, intimacies and relatedness negotiated in these relations? These questions will lead the investigation of the growing trend of creating communities and finding biological family members on the Internet; here groups and sites are established and run by families who have a child by an unknown sperm or egg donor and children of unknown donors. The number of babies born with unknown sperm donors has exploded in the last decade yet almost no research has been done on these new family formations. What happens when biological offspring connect via social media? Are we witnessing a new, and potentially revolutionary, way of creating families and kinship, and what does this mean for ‘traditional families’? The project’s empirical sources will be a combination of desktop analysis of the online groups and communities, as well as a series of interview with parents, children, and donors involved.


Surrogacy, online!

Michael Nebeling Petersen, assistant professor, PhD, University of Southern Denmark

Michael Nebeling Petersen

Gay men have traditionally formed kinship in ”chosen families” or in ‘rainbow families’, families consisting of, for instance, two mothers, two fathers and child/ren, where the biological parents have no sexual relation to each other, and thus inherently different to the classic nuclear family and the ideologies of heteronormative procreation. The impossibility of ‘heteronormative procreation’ has worked in tandem with the cultural configuration of the gay man as always already dying where degeneration has been linked to the non-reproductive nature of (male) homosexuality.

But increasingly gay men go abroad to become parents through surrogacy. Surrogacy as a reproductive technology makes procreation, in a more classical (heteronormative) form, possible for gay men, who now can become the solely two parents in a classical nuclear family. These new possibilities dramatically changes gay men’s symbolic and concrete (queer) precarious position outside ‘the family’ and reproduction, and these men increasingly are becoming part of heteronormative procreation and included into heteronormative institutions. Still gay fathers experience discrimination and marginalization. And the gay men’s families are precarious in the sense that they are discursively and affectively vulnerable and constantly in the risk of loosing intelligibility.

This subproject examines how gay men’s families and procreation through transnational surrogacy take form using new mediated technologies. Focusing especially on (1) the blog as a performative media technology enabling gay men to materialize the procreative process and thus to become pregnant, and (2) the communities and visualities that have emerged on social medias like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and help structure and create the ethics, culture and affectivity around the phenomenon of gay men using transnational surrogacy.

Memory and Mourning in the Age of Mediatization. The Use of Facebook when Faced with the Death of a Close Relative.

Tobias Raun, assistant professor, PhD., Roskilde University

Tobias Raun

Facebook is the most dominant and used social network site in Denmark, enabling people to communicate thoughts, feelings and opinions via status updates and pictures. The site also offers one to create or join common-interest user groups or events, frictionless to share files, links, videos etc. and the ability to comment on all of the above. Many, including the Danish news media, often portray Facebook as banal, inauthentic, time-wasting socialization/entertainment. But that is not all Facebook is, thus for many the site becomes an important part of commemorating and coping with the death of a loved one.

Methodologically the subproject is based on a mapping of Facebook postings and semi-structured interviews with people who have actively used Facebook when faced with the death of a close relative. The main point of interest is, what Facebook can help facilitate in this regard.

The guiding research questions are: What is shared, when – and why? What is the motivation for posting? What value, if any, is attached to people’s responses – and how does the awareness of an overhearing audience influence what one posts? What are the perceived effects of using Facebook?

The subproject explores new and mediatized practices of grieving through social media. In a broader cultural perspective the practice seems to partly challenge the taboo around death, while also letting the process of mourning, which is often considered an intimate, private matter, become semi-public knowledge.

“Relive the passion – Find your affair”: infidelity and intimacy online

Katherine Harrison, post doc., PhD, University of Copenhagen.

Katherine Harrison

This project focuses on infidelity and new media, looking at websites and smartphone applications that facilitate infidelity. Whilst online dating sites have long been used as a covert way to find additional partners or extra-marital intimacy, recent years have seen an increase in the variety of social media services explicitly targeted at unfaithful partners. Examining the interplay between form, content and social norms on websites and smartphone apps explicitly designed to facilitate infidelity, I am exploring how sites and apps for those wishing to cheat are both changing ideas about infidelity and driving a demand for digital media that mediate these practices of intimacy.

Immigration and Belonging: Social media and dating networks among immigrants and ethnic minorities

Andrew Shield, PhD Fellow, Roskilde University

Andrew Shield

With a focus on immigration and dating technology in Denmark, the project explores (1) the ways potential immigrants use new media to forge pathways of migration (i.e. to make friends or lovers in Denmark who can provide money, housing, legal advice, jobs), and (2) how recent immigrants use new media to build networks in Denmark (i.e. to find friends, lovers, housing, jobs). With regard to new media (e.g. websites, smartphone applications, Facebook groups), I focus on potential and recent immigrants who use dating and “hook-up” technology geared toward those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer or questioning (LGBTQ).

At Roskilde University (RUC), the research is affiliated with the department of Communication, Business, and Information Technology (CBIT); the Center for Power, Media, and Communication (MMK); and the Center for Gender, Power and Diversity (CKMM). I also work closely with those in the European Sexuality, Gender Identity, and Migration Research Network (ESGIM,

Disability, Visuality, Intimacy: Renegotiating Disability in Online Public Awareness Campaigns

Maria Bee Christensen-Strynø, PhD Fellow, Roskilde University

Maria Bee Christensen-Strynø

An increased visibility of disability can be found in contemporary landscapes of mainstream media. Especially, public awareness campaigns on disability seem to have reappeared through social media platforms and online news coverage.

My project explores the interconnections between online media, intimate bodily relations, visuality and spectatorship in public awareness campaigns about disability.

Hereby, I investigate how disability, which traditionally is positioned as a marker of devaluated body identity, is being renegotiated and redefined. An important focal point in the project is how the campaigns, on several levels, can be seen as using online presence to enhance learning perspectives about disability to negotiate traditional notions of corporeality and intimacy.

Last update April 17, 2015, by Rikke Andreassen.