What Are the Cultural Roots of Individual Choices and Aggregate Patterns?
My research focuses on a fundamental problem at the intersection of demography and cultural sociology: how does culture influence the plans and choices of individuals, producing the patterned behavior that we observe? I examine how socially structured standards of morality influence life course decision-making in contexts undergoing rapid cultural change. At each milestone on the transition to adulthood–continuing in school, starting a serious relationship, and having sex– my work demonstrates that individuals shape and reshape their life trajectories in accordance with these moral frames. My empirical research has primarily been based in Malawi, where I have looked at the influence of culture on educational choices, romantic experiences, and, most recently, men’s evaluations of women’s sexual desirability.
Frye, Margaret, and Jenny Trinitapoli. 2015. “Ideals as Anchors for Relationship Experiences.” American Sociological Review 80(3): 496-525.
Frye, Margaret. 2012. “Bright Futures in Malawi’s New Dawn: Educational Aspirations as Assertions of Identity.” American Journal of Sociology 117(6): 1565-1624.