MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Navigating the Tavern: Digitally Mediated Connections and Relationship Persistence in Bar Settings


Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


The widespread adoption of digital communications technologies has provided new avenues for social interaction to occur. We build on the sociological literature of fleeting encounters in bar settings to show how patrons' use of these technologies augments the bar experience and shapes the social networks that may develop through interaction. Using seven gay, lesbian, and heterosexual bars located in Southern California as research sites, we describe how patrons invoke digital technologies as props to aid the impression management strategies used to facilitate new connections. Second, we demonstrate how these encounters are subject to greater relationship persistence as a result of the way these technologies are used to quickly create a shared history. We conclude by arguing that fleeting encounters are no longer connections that either persist or completely fade away after face‐to‐face interaction. Rather, they often persist through technology‐mediated communications in ways that result in, at minimum, the development of weak ties. This greater relationship persistence can permit more opportunity to get to know a potential partner in digitally mediated settings like Facebook or via texting, but it could also require new strategies to evade interested others given this new lack of ephemerality and the influx of weak ties.