“Boundary-Maintenance” or “Boundary-Crossing”? Name-Giving Practices among Immigrants in Germany
Gerhards, Jürgen; Tuppat, Julia – 2020
This study investigates why some immigrants choose names for their children that are common in their home country whereas others opt for names used by natives in the host country. Drawing on the sociological literature on symbolic boundaries, the first strategy can be described as boundary-maintenance whereas the second can be classified as boundary-crossing. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study and applying bivariate and multivariate methods, two broader explanations for name-giving practices are tested: (1) cultural proximity and the permeability of the symbolic boundary between home and host country; and (2) immigrants’ levels of linguistic, structural, social, and emotional integration in the host country. Overall, the theoretical model explains the differences very satisfactorily. Whilst both sets of factors proved relevant to immigrants’ name-giving practices, the immigrants’ level of integration in the host country was less important than the cultural proximity between the origin group and host country.