Name change and destigmatization among Middle Eastern immigrants in Sweden
2012 (English)In: Ethnic and Racial Studies, ISSN 0141-9870, E-ISSN 1466-4356, Vol. 35, no 3, 471-487 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Research has shown that individuals in Sweden with foreign-sounding surnames who take on more Swedish-sounding or neutral surnames have a positive earnings progression compared to individuals who keep their foreign-sounding names. This article explores the strategies underlying these surname changes. I draw on forty-five interviews from a population of individuals with Middle Eastern backgrounds who changed surnames during the 1990s. Drawing on stigma and destigmatization theory, I argue that immigrant name change, a strategy typically associated with cultural assimilation, is a destigmatization strategy aiming for pragmatic assimilation. Through passing (as either Swedish or non-Middle Eastern), immigrants may keep the benefits of maintaining ethnic identity in their private life and the benefits of more easy public interactions outside the ethnic group. This study also illustrates how the institutional enabling of name change both creates and enables pragmatic assimilation.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 35, no 3, 471-487 p.
Stigma, immigrants, pragmatic assimilation, name change, ethnic discrimination, Sweden
Research subject Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-81488DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2011.589522ISI: 000301861400007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-81488DiVA: diva2:561950