Dr Eleanor Power

Dr Eleanor Power

Associate Professor

Department of Methodology

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English, Tamil
Key Expertise
Ethnography, Social network analysis, India, Signalling theory, Religion

About me

"Through life changes and career moves, we developed an agent-based model and found some credence to my hunch [about different reputational benefits connected to religious action], and other new insights, too. For me, this was a great collaboration: true interdisciplinary cross-fertilisation, and a chance to work with friends."
- Dr Eleanor Power discusses an area of her research that makes her proud as part of our 30th Anniversary celebrations. Read the full close-up with Methodology faculty.

Eleanor Power is an Associate Professor in the Department of Methodology. She completed her PhD in Anthropology at Stanford University in 2015. Prior to joining LSE in 2017, she was an Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute.

Research interests

Eleanor is an anthropologist interested in how belief, practice, and identity interact with and shape interpersonal relationships. She looks at how people work to discern something of the character, moral being, and intentions of their peers through their actions, and equally how people strive to communicate something of themselves to others, both in dramatic and in subtle ways. She studies how such actions and reactions form the basis not only of people’s perceptions of one another, but also form the substance of their relationships and the emergent structure of their social world.

She studies these dynamics through fieldwork conducted in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and through collaborative cross-cultural comparative work. She combines qualitative ethnographic work with more structured forms of data collection and analysis, primary among which is social network analysis. Her current research is focused on understanding social and economic inequality in cross-cultural perspective (as the co-director of the ENDOW project), and the micro-dynamics of social inequality and the “reputational poverty trap” (as the PI of the Rep2SI project).

Expertise Details

Social network analysis; Ethnography; Religion; South Asia; Signaling theory; Social capital

Selected publications

C.R. Simpson and E. Power. 2023. Dynamics of cooperative networks associated with gender among South Indian Tamils. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 378 (1868):20210437. 

E. Power and E. Ready. 2019. Cooperation beyond consanguinity: Post-marital residence, delineations of kin, and social support among South Indian Tamils. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 374(1780):20180070.

J. Barker*, E. Power*, S. Heap, M. Puurtinen and R. Sosis. 2019. Content, Cost, and Context: A Framework for Understanding Human Signaling Systems. Evolutionary Anthropology. 28(2):86-99. (*: co-first authors)

E. Power and E. Ready. 2018. Building Bigness: Reputation, Prominence, and Social Capital in Rural South India. American Anthropologist. 120(3), 444-459.

E. Power. 2018. Collective Ritual and Social Support Networks in Rural South India. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 285(1879), 20180023.

R. Bliege Bird, E. Ready, and E. Power. 2018. The Social Significance of Subtle Signals. Nature Human Behaviour. 2(2), 1-6.

E. Ready and E. Power. 2018. Why Wage Earners Hunt: Food Sharing, Social Structure, and Influence in an Arctic Mixed Economy. Current Anthropology. 59(1), 74–97.

E. Power. 2017. Discerning Devotion: Testing the Signaling Theory of Religion. Evolution and Human Behavior. 38(1): 82-91.

E. Power. 2017. Social Support Networks and Religiosity in Rural South India. Nature Human Behaviour. 1:0057.

C. De Bacco, E. Power, D. Larremore, and C. Moore. 2017. Community Detection, Link Prediction and Layer Interdependency in Multilayer Networks. Physical Review E. 95(4):042317.

R. Bliege Bird and E. Power. 2015. Prosocial Signaling and Cooperation Among Martu Hunters. Evolution and Human Behavior. 36(5): 389-397.

D. McCauley, E. Power, D. Bird, A. McInturff, R. Dunbar, W. Durham, F. Micheli, and H. Young. 2013. Conservation at the Edges of the World. Biological Conservation. 165 (September): 139-145.

My research