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In addition to content analysis, sociologists studying sexuality and the media often look at media practice, which refers to the social contexts in which audiences view and process media (Steele, 1999). In a small, qualitative study, Steele (1999) looksed at the influence of family, friends and school on how teens interpret and relate to the media they consume. Specifically, she examined the experiences of marginalized and minority teens who don’t often see people “like them” depicted in media; she suggests that such teens may be more influenced by depictions they can relate to than teens who see media images resembling their lives frequently. Tyler (2004) explores how sexual advice in lifestyle magazines has been shaped by a broader societal trend of rationalization and efficiency, and what repercussions such framing may have for sexual intimacy and exploration.
The role of media in sexuality is not limited to purveyor of messages about sexuality. While “Personals” sections in newspapers have long been a means for people to actively use media to find relationship and sexual partners, the emergence of the Internet has truly normalized media use in the search for sex and love. According to Hyde and DeLamater, “Computer and Internet use is spreading more rapidly than any previous technology” (2006: 8). As Internet use becomes more and more integrated into people’s daily lives, one would expect its use to find partners to continue increasing as well. Social scientists have generated a number of hypotheses about the potential effects of Internet dating services. Like Tyler, who refers to the use of personal advertisements and dating services as “the rational pursuit of the self as an entrepreneurial project” (2004: 86), some are critical of this new phenomenon. However, others are excited about the possibilities of Internet use in dating by helping people with compatible (and sometimes atypical) interests, lifestyles, relationship desires, and sexual practices find one