1st Edition

Changing Names and Gendering Identity Social Organisation in Contemporary Britain

By Rachel Thwaites Copyright 2017
    164 Pages
    by Routledge

    164 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book investigates contemporary naming practices on marriage in Britain, drawing on survey data and detailed interview material in which women offer their own accounts of the reasons for which they have changed or retained their names. Exploring the ways in which names are used to create and understand family, to cement commitments and make it clear to the self and to others that subject is in ’true love’, Changing Names and Gendering Identity considers the manner in which names are used to make sense of the self and narrate life changes and choices in a coherent fashion. A critique of the gender-blindness of sociological theories of individualisation, this volume offers evidence of the continued importance of traditions and the past to the functioning of contemporary society. In dissecting the everyday, taken-for-granted ritual of name changing for women on marriage, it sheds light on the nature of an enduring set of unequal gender relations which are used to organise society, behaviour and interpersonal relations. Engaging with questions of power, heteronormativity, and gender relations, this analysis of a significant ritual of contemporary heterosexual marriage will interest sociologists and scholars of gender studies with interests in the family, identity and gender relations.


    Author’s Declaration

    1: Introduction: The Importance of Names to Gendered Social Organisation

    2: Research Design and Methodology

    3: Names and Tradition

    4: Names, ‘Choice’, and Gender

    5: Power, Politics, and Naming

    6: Maintaining the Status Quo? Love, Heterosexuality, and Emotion Work

    7: ‘Displaying’ and ‘Doing’ Family: Genetics, Social Connection, and Respectability

    8: Names, (Gendered) Self, and Society

    9: Accounting for Transgression

    10: Conclusion



    Rachel Thwaites is a Lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University.