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 religious belief, practice, and identity interact with and shape interpersonal relationships. 

She studies these dynamics through fieldwork conducted in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, primary among which is social network analysis. Her work is informed by signaling theory and the wider scholarship of human behavioral ecology. She is interested in the dynamics of social networks, especially relative to the factors that influence cooperation, competition, trust, and prestige. More generally, Eleanor is interested in investigating questions regarding: the role of religion in society, the interaction between costly signaling and cooperation, gender differences in prominence and social capital, and the dynamics of gossip and social censure.

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.