Self-naming and Hetero-naming Strategies: from Appropriation to Reconfiguration
The names imposed on or chosen by communities provide an insight into thecfunctioning and hierarchical structure of societies. These processes will becexamined by thinking first about the relationships between how groups arecnamed (hetero-naming) and how they name themselves (self-naming) basedcon sociohistorical context, and the theory of social representation (Moscovici, 1976). We will first expose the connection between the activity of naming and the activity of representation, then we shall focus on two examples of heteronaming which have their origins in medical discourse: “homosexuality” and “transsexuality”. The hetero-imposed name “homosexuality” is reappropriated as self-naming within a community of fate. This process allows the development of a collective identity and social representation with the aim of enhancing and transforming it into an “emblem-name” (Moscovici, 1999). The term transsexuality is a hetero-naming largely rejected by those to whom it is applied and, then, who self-name using other terms. This process is also motivated by a desire to enhance and reconfigure the balance of power, i.e. to make the transition from “stigma-name” to “emblem-name” (Moscovici, 1999). Thus, hetero-naming circumscribes spaces of representation and is imposed on individuals as a means of acting on their lives from a position of dominance. However, it is also a part of a dynamic of relationships between different actors, revealing processes of challenge, appropriation and transformation of names. That’s why it seems important to us to question the ethical position which we adopt as researchers and practitioners.