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Naming Names: Kinship, Individuality and Personal Names

Janet Finch
Sociology
Vol. 42, No. 4 (AUGUST 2008), pp. 709-725
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42857171
Page Count: 17
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Abstract

The article presents an exploratory analysis of the significance of personal names in contemporary Western societies, the UK in particular. Names are seen as having the dual character of denoting the individuality of the person, and also marking social connections. The focus is particularly on kinship, and the ways in which names can be, and are, used to map family connections as well as to identify unique individuals. The author argues that both surnames and forenames can serve to ground the individual within family relationships, though the extent to which this is used actively can vary. In turn the way in which names and naming are used within the family context sheds light upon contemporary kinship, with its enduring and variable dimensions. Additional empirical exploration of names and naming could further illuminate its characteristics.

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