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Scheuble and Johnson 1993

Scheuble and Johnson 1993 - LAURIE SCHEUBLE Doane College...

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LAURIE SCHEUBLE Doane College DAVID R. JOHNSON University of Nebraska-Lincoln* Marital Name Change: Plans and Attitudes of College Students The present research examines attitudes of a sam- ple of 258 Midwestern college students toward marital name change. Students rated their agree- ment with a series of 22 statements about marital name change. Findings indicate that women plan- ning to marry at a later age and expecting non- traditional work roles after the birth of their first child were less likely than other women to want to change their last name to that of their spouse. Overall, female respondents identified more situ- ations as appropriate for a woman to keep her birth name than did males. Women's marital name change plans were not correlated with tol- erance toward marital name change practices. Both background and intervening variables were found to affect male and female respondent's tol- erance of name change practices. Marriage and family role expectations have expe- rienced tremendous change in the last few decades. This change has been driven by in- creased educational levels and labor force partici- pation for women, lower fertility and higher di- vorce rates, and the challenging of institutional structures which have devalued women. Women's identities are no longer defined solely in relation to marriage and family roles mandated Department of Sociology, Doane College, Crete, NE 68333. *Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0324. by history and tradition, one aspect of which is the expectation that women will take the last name of their spouse when they marry. Changes in marital role expectations may lead to increases both in the number of women electing to keep their birth name when they marry and in more tol- erance toward these practices. Given the changes that are currently taking place in marriage and family role expectations, marital name change is- sues clearly warrant examination, yet this topic has been virtually unexplored by social scientists. This study makes a step toward filling this void by analyzing plans for and attitudes toward mari- tal name change in a sample of Midwestern col- lege students. The examination of marital naming for both prominent and ordinary women is important be- cause it challenges society's idea of women's identities and roles. Language and the meanings and symbols attached to its use provide a basis for understanding how social relations began and how they operate in everyday situations (McDowell & Pringle, 1992). The examination of attitudes toward women's and men's marital name choices permits further insight into overall societal understanding of relationships and the meanings these relationships have for members. The cultural
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