‘Who would take whose name?’ Accounts of naming practices in same-sex relationships
Clarke, V., Burns, M. and Burgoyne, C. (2008) ‘Who would take whose name?’ Accounts of naming practices in same-sex relationships. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 18 (5). pp. 420-439. ISSN 1052-9284
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/casp.936
The practice of a woman assuming her husband’s last name upon marriage is a deeply embedded norm in some countries. Whether or not individual heterosexual couples reproduce or resist this practice, it provides a context for making decisions about marital names. No conventions, other than heteronormative ones, govern naming practices in same-sex relationships and families, but very little is known about name changing in these contexts. This paper reports an exploratory qualitative study of the ways in which 30 lesbians and gay men in committed relationships make meaning of name changing and keeping. Only one participant reported changing her last name, some considered name changing a future possibility, but most had no plans to change their name. The lack of conventions regarding naming in same-sex families created a dilemma for some participants - who would take whose name? Many participants did not want to entirely give up their name, thus a hyphenated last name was the most popular option for those contemplating a name change. Accounts of name-changing centred on doing/being family. This was also a theme in accounts of name-keeping, along with maintaining a continuity of personal and professional identity, avoiding hassle, complications and confusion, and resisting heteronormativity. The findings are discussed in relation to other research on naming in same-sex families and research on heterosexual marital naming practices.
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