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Immigrants' emotional identification with the host society: the example of Turkish parents' naming practices in Germany

The naming practice of immigrants is studied as an example of their emotional identification with the host society and with the society of origin. Since first names can be chosen freely and at no cost, they are a good indicator for the parents’ desired form of acculturation. With data from the project “Preschool Education and Educational Careers among Migrant Children” it is analysed if Turkish parents in Germany choose a first name for their child which is common only in Turkey, only in Germany or in both countries. This first name choice represents a separated, an assimilated or an integrated emotional identification of the parents. Most of the parents choose a Turkish name for their child, but girls are more frequently given names that are common in both cultures than boys, while German names are only rarely chosen. Intermarriage strongly decreases the probability for separation in naming and especially increases the probability for the integration option, while the presence of a parent with the German citizenship enhances assimilation stronger than integration. More traditional and religious families tend to choose rather a Turkish name. The results of the first name choice are compared to analogous analyses of the respondents’ identity, which is the usual indicator of immigrants’ emotional identification. In principle the effects are similar, but the proportion of integration is considerably higher in the identity choice than in the name choice.

Becker, B.