Surnames and Identities

  • Solveig Wikstrøm University of Oslo


This paper, based on a survey of 314 Oslo residents, investigates the relationship between surname and identity. The aim was to find out whether the modern individual experiences his or her surname as a part of his or her identity, and what bond exists between surname and locale. Late modern society typically reveals a fragmentation of individuals from family background and place of origin. A hypothesized outcome of this separation, envisages a further breach between the individual and the area their surname denotes. If one's surname is experienced as part of one's identity, what then is the main reason for this? Are there in fact different experiences of identity based on some typology of names borne by individuals?