As my parents remind me on a regular basis, things these days are much different than when they went to college. My mother is constantly telling stories of the boys she dated when she was in college and asking me why I have only gone on one date the entire time I have been in college. Well, she is right, things just are not the same these days. College has gone from couples and dates to singles and sex. Dating is virtually nonexistent and “hooking up” has taken over. Everyone I have met in college is hooking up, trying to hook up, or trying to get over a hook up. As this is becoming more and more prevalent, many people, parents especially (or at least mine), are trying to figure out why dating has died.
A Structural-Functionalist would look at the hook up culture in college and ask how this is serving a function for society. Dating is a formal way to court possible mates or spouses. Like dating, hooking up is still a form of courtship, but it is a much more casual approach that seems to better suit the lifestyle of current college students. This demonstrates the idea of dynamic continuity; the age old need for companionship and sex are still there, but how one fulfills these needs changes with society. Society is becoming more detached from human interaction with the increasing amount of technology, so maybe college students feel it is normal for a sexual relationship to only involve sex and no personal connection. It is also true that students want their sexual needs met, but because of logistics, do not want to become emotionally involved; students are often from different states and plan on leaving or going home after graduation, making sustaining a relationship difficult.
A Feminist Anthropologist would also have a lot to say about the hook up culture in colleges. From this perspective one would probably note the performance of gender in the hook up culture. With any courting practices, both sexes try to make themselves look attractive for their potential mates. For women this means putting on makeup, doing their hair, and wearing clothes they believe to make themselves look more attractive. For men they might put on their nicer clothes and cologne and shave their face (or not shave, if that’s what they think is attractive). At a party, which is where most people would go to find someone to hook up with, the way that people dance or flirt can be seen as gender performance. A Feminist Anthropologist would also probably note the sexual bias within hook up culture. It is very unlikely that a female would more aggressively pursue a male to hook up. Usually a female will wait for a guy to approach her and let him guide the relationship if both are interested in hooking up. America has a patriarchal society and within the hook up culture it is no different.
— Casey K.