The mores of morality: social media and relationship practices in Indonesia – University of Copenhagen

The mores of morality: social media and relationship practices in Indonesia

Pre-defence of PhD thesis by Rinatania Fajriani.

External examiner: Dr. Martin Slama, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.


This dissertation is an ethnographic investigation of the way in which adult Muslims make use of social media networks in order to establish sexual relationships and everyday intimacy in contemporary Indonesia. In that direction, this dissertation has built upon both online and in situ ethnographic research in order to examine the ways in which social intimacy is being produced, displayed, and negotiated through social media and to subsequently understand whether the way in which Indonesians perform intimacy in the online realm differs substantially from similar practices conducted in their physical everyday lives. Indeed, the Indonesian society has recently become increasingly conservative with Islamic values becoming deeply embedded in it, which has sent thousands of laymen who wish to perform sexual practices that go beyond acceptable social norms – such as premarital sex or same-sex relationships – into the online realm. Nevertheless, as I will argue throughout this dissertation, the online realm itself has also become strongly informed by similar cultural logics, which essentially undermines distinctions between the ways in which intimacy is being negotiated offline and online. Taking this as a point of departure, this dissertation will provide a holistic overview of the social media landscape in Indonesia while maintaining a focus on social intimacy.