Margaret Frye

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Faculty Associate, Office of Population Research
Email Address:
Office Location: 
147 Wallace Hall

Margaret Frye is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Associate of the Office of Population Research. Her research connects cultural understandings and behavioral outcomes during the transition to adulthood in sub-Saharan Africa. She employs a variety of data sources and methodological approaches, including in-depth interviews, classroom observations, computational text analysis, and sequence analysis. Her research has been published in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, and Population and Development Review. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard for two years before joining the faculty at Princeton.

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.

Publications List: 

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.