Marital Name Changing: Delving Deeper into Women’s Reasons

  • Keels M
  • Powers R
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Using a mixed method approach, this study examines women’s reasons for the traditional practice of marital name changing. We utilize data collected via a questionnaire administered to first-year college students at a southeastern US public university and data gathered from in-depth interviews with recent college graduates. The quantitative results show that the reasons given for marital name changing are closely tied to social norms. The results from the qualitative analyses reveal more specifically how social norms direct the practice of marital name changing. Together the findings show that women’s perceptions of their family’s expectations are a key reason motivating them to practice marital name changing. However, in both samples, respondents express mixed and sometimes inconsistent reasons regarding marital name changing. Respondents emphasize the importance of adhering to the tradition while also reporting that they did not consider marital name changing as an important issue. These findings indicate the multifaceted quality of the issue. Together, the results illustrate how social norms shape people’s personal decision about marital name changing while also showing how the decision made by people shapes society.




Keels, M. M., & Powers, R. S. (2013). Marital Name Changing: Delving Deeper into Women’s Reasons. Advances in Applied Sociology, 03(07), 301–306.

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