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Configuring the digital relationship landscape: a feminist new materialist analysis of a couple relationship app

Witney, T., Gabb, J., Aicken, C. , Di Martino, S. & Lucassen, M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6958-3468 (2024). Configuring the digital relationship landscape: a feminist new materialist analysis of a couple relationship app. Families, Relationships and Societies, doi: 10.1332/20467435y2024d000000015


Digital technologies play an increasing role in intimate couple relationships, prompting new approaches to better understand the contemporary digital relationship landscape. This article uses feminist new materialist assemblage thinking to explore the functioning and processes of a relationship support app, Paired. Deploying diffractive analysis, it presents three composite narratives that explore the temporality of couple relationships, relationship work and situated practices of coupledom. Composite narratives retain the emotional truth of original accounts through combined participant voices, enabling attention to be focused on the user–relationship–app assemblage. Findings suggest that routinised app notifications prompt meaningful everyday relationship maintenance behaviours. Human–technology intra-actions thus generate positive relationship health and wellbeing behaviours which may have lasting benefits. This article’s contributions are therefore largely methodological and conceptual, with analysis of supplementary primary interview data (n=20) derived from a mixed-methods evaluation, including brief longitudinal surveys over three months (n=440) and a detailed survey (n=745).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (
Publisher Keywords: couple relationships; relationship support; relationship quality; digital intimacies; feminist new materialism; composite narratives; relationship maintenance behaviours; digital interventions; more-than-relationship quality
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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