An analysis of reasons behind its existence.

Utpal Kumar
4 min readJan 8, 2022
Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash

Surname signifies certain characteristics that people having the same surname generally possess. It gives a sense of pride and makes people appear different from the rest. But does this sense of pride give rise to a divide within society? Let’s analyze this topic in more detail in this article.

Genes have a say in our characteristics

There is no doubt that the genes of a person do have a big say in what kind of characteristics a person has.

“Surnames put people possessing the same kind of genes into one group”

They have a sense of belonging and connect with each other better. They sometimes share similar interests and even professions and would like to take pride in it. Grouping themselves in the same surname helps in bringing them together and creates an attachment to each other.

Moreover, since they share similar characteristics both personally and professionally, the sense of attachment makes them stay together and fight outside forces.

A caveat

The sense of attachment to each other in people having the same surname creates a divide in society. People judge each other based on surname and are sometimes biased towards people who share the same surname.

Moreover, earlier the marriage used to happen within people having a few select surnames but in current society, this tradition is no longer followed, and hence the argument related to the genes given earlier no longer stands valid. People now have different characteristics and no longer fit into those signified by their respective surnames.

“This inter-mixing is actually good for the evolution of the society as it will bring about more diverse characteristics amongst people”

Apart from marriage, generally surname also determines with whom do we have various other kinds of relationships like friendship, etc. Having various relationships only within people belonging to the same surname may seem comforting but it will hinder the growth process of the individual.

“There is something to learn from people of each characteristic. Restricting oneself in this regard would create hindrance in the evolution of the person.”

It is only when one comes in contact with diverse opinions that one can challenge the status quo and reach a freer state of mind. Surname creates a hindrance in achieving this goal.

Men and surnames

Traditionally men have been responsible for carrying out professional work and taking care of the security of the people in their groups. Hence the attachment towards surname is more in men. They have been known to take pride in their surname as it gives rise to a sense of belonging and supporting each other at times of need.

After marriage a man wants his wife and children to keep the same surname so that he can put them in the same group. This helps them in taking responsibility for their security without confronting people of the same group.

Another caveat

Apart from all other caveats of having a surname that is mentioned earlier, men suffer further damage when it comes to asking their wives to have the same surname.

“When wife changes her surname to that of the husband, it creates pressure on the men to provide for the needs of the woman.”

Moreover, traditionally men have been found to have multiple partners. It is evident from the various kings, in earlier times, having multiple wives. The attachment created towards the wife when she changes her surname makes a man take responsibility for her. He thinks he is required to fulfill her needs and can’t leave her midway.

But in current society, women have become independent. They do not need a man to provide for her needs financially and security-wise. This change has led women not to attach themselves to one man for life and hence there has been a steep rise in divorces.

Men need to adapt to this changing paradigm of marriage and not force themselves to be the provider anymore.

“They too can stick to marriage till it satisfies their needs and not let surname act as a hindrance in breaking the bond when the situation arises.”

Also, the independent identity took over by women nowadays makes it important that they are not known by their husbands’ names. It may have worked earlier but doesn’t fit in contemporary society.


In earlier times, surname did provide some benefit for an individual but in current times its significance is declining. One need not resist this change and accept that non-reliance on surname will actually create a more free society.

The changing of surname by wives is actually a trap for the man in the current times as it creates artificial pressure to be the provider and have an attachment. Relationships are beautiful till the time there is love involved. One definitely needs to be responsible but the artificially created sense of responsibility arising out of surname is not the most prudent way.

I hope to see a society where people are known by their individual characteristics and not by those derived from their surnames.



Utpal Kumar

Interested in the psychology behind human functioning. I write on a variety of topics with most of them dealing with personal development | MS in CS from UCSD