Vol. 58 No. 2 (2010)
Research Article

Women's Post-Marital Name Retention and the Communication of Identity

Published 2010-06-01


  • NAMES,
  • ...More



This study describes how identity is symbolically communicated through women's post-marital name retention by examining the factors influencing women's choices, the communication around the decision, and how the non-traditional last name is present (or not) in interaction. This study uses symbolic interactionism and critical feminism as orienting frameworks for the collection and analysis of data. Data was collected through twenty-three face-to-face interviews, and was analyzed using constant comparison and thematic analysis. Findings indicate that women who retain their names expect to do so, based upon identity-related concerns of ancestry, professional stature, and feminism. Additionally, women who engage in non-traditional marital naming engage in communication of their choices with others whose responses range from affirmation to confrontation. Findings indicate that a layered theoretical approach to the questions of naming and communication is warranted in order to generate understanding of decision-making, identity negotiation, meaning, and the use of names to communicate identity.


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