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Reading: Infidelity on the internet: an overview of the phenomenon and the research into it


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Special Section: Senses, emotions and artifacts: relational approaches (coord. Olga Sabido)

Infidelity on the internet: an overview of the phenomenon and the research into it


Tania Rodriguez Salazar

Universidad de Guadalajara, MX
About Tania

Doctora en Ciencias Sociales por la Universidad de Guadalajara. Profesora e investigadora del Departamento de Estudios de la Comunicación Social de la misma universidad. Miembro del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, nivel II. Entre sus publicaciones se encuentran los libros El amor y la pareja. Nuevas rutas en las representaciones y prácticas juveniles (2017), Vidas deseables. Cartografías de deseos y valores (2009) y Las razones del matrimonio (2001). Ha coordinado los libros Representaciones sociales. Teoría e Investigación (2007, junto con Lourdes García), Representaciones mediáticas del amor, el sexo y el poder femenino. Seis estudios de caso (2016) y publicado varios artículos o capítulos sobre representaciones sociales, sociología de las emociones, teoría cultural, jóvenes, amor y pareja.

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With the purpose of theoretically and empirically dealing with the phenomenon of infidelity on the internet, this article presents a revision of literature on this empirical research, framed in a relational sociological discussion on couples and the regulation of Western sexuality. This sociological framework will be used in order to relate the structural and the personal, as well as to recognise logics of valuation/devaluation in couples. Also presented are some implications of digital sociality (expansion in channels of interaction, video communication, permanent connection, lack of inhibition, imagination, etc.) in the emotional relationships between people. In this way, the potential of this form of sociality in people’s love lives and sex lives is explained. Finally, a qualitative revision of empirical studies is outlined, showing that infidelity through technological mediations is a growing phenomenon, which is transforming the normative regulations (with new limits on that which is permitted and that which is prohibited), and which tends to bring about behaviours which -probably- would not occur when people are physically present in each other’s company. To conclude, there is a critical discussion of the ethical and moral presuppositions on which the research on internet infidelity hinges. There are observations on tendencies to pass negative judgement on unfaithful acts, to stigmatise secrets in couples, to approve of romantic and monogamous ideals without criticism, and to exaggerate experience. However, studies also emerge in which positive consequences are confirmed, or the institution of monogamy is questioned in some measure. These considerations tend to highlight the need for a sociological perspective in research in this field.

How to Cite: Rodriguez Salazar, T., 2020. Infidelity on the internet: an overview of the phenomenon and the research into it. Digithum, (25), pp.1–15. DOI:
Published on 04 Aug 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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