What’s in a name? Names, national identity, assimilation, and the new racist discourse of Marine Le Pen

Jonathan Clifton

Abstract

Despite the fact that the link between names, national identity, and the (non)assimilation of immigrants into a host country’s culture is often assumed, little research investigates how this link is discursively achieved as an in situ members’ accomplishment, nor does this research describe what the link between assimilation and naming achieves as social practice. Using membership categorisation analysis (MCA) as a research methodology and transcripts of a televised news interview and subsequent news forum comments as data, this paper investigates how national identity is discursively negotiated in political debate in the public sphere. It thus points out how boundaries are drawn around national identity so as to either exclude or include immigrants with ‘foreign-sounding’ names and so investigates how new racism is achieved, or resisted, in political debate. Findings indicate that new racism is achieved through the functioning of adversarial standard relational pairs (SRPs) which make relevant difference rather than similarity.

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