This study investigates how parents select the names of their children. Anthropological research on naming is very sparse, despite the immense power of names to reflect cultural variables, such as: kinship, gender relations, socioeconomic class relations, and differences in taste and personal preference. I surveyed a sample of parents at three daycare facilities in a small town in the Midwest about their children’s names and how they chose those names. My findings indicate that kin naming plays a significant role, but many parents find a balance between choosing a name with “meaning” and choosing a name based on their personal taste and popular, contemporary aesthetics. This study found that many parents strive to individualize their children through naming, yet they also use it as a way to establish their children’s place in their kin network and culture.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology


Linguistic Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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