Skip to main content

Sociology: People


Théo Bourgeron

Théo Bourgeron
Théo Bourgeron
Research Interests
Anthropology of Money, Sociology of finance, Welfare reform politics, Dynamics of capitalism, Body and capital, Impact investing, Private equity

Main research topics

I am currently a third-year PhD candidate at the university of Edinburgh, and a research & teaching fellow at Sciences Po (Paris). I am also affiliated to the French IDHES research institution. My PhD is supervised by Donald MacKenzie (University of Edinburgh) and Valérie Boussard (Université Paris-Nanterre/IDHES). My PhD work is divided in three main research areas.

1. Ethnography of the private equity industry

The main topic of my PhD is the ethnographic study of "private equity funds", that is to say funds buying, managing, restructuring and selling private companies in order to generate financial return for their investors. Elaborating on two ethnographic observations and numerous interviews, I study the representations and practices of private finance actors. I intend to describe how these actors embody and define the contemporary figure of the shareholder.

2. When financiers grasp social funding

Having done a 3-month ethnographic observation of an investment fund specialised in impact investing, that is to say the production of "social value" by financial investors, I am currently engaged in studying social finance and its consequences. As such, I have participated to the organisation comittee of the Social Finance conference, organised by Eve Chiapello and Lisa Knoll, that has taken place in March 2017 at the university of Hamburg.

3. Zero Magic

In addition to these research topics, I am working as a research assistant for Swedish artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby (Goldin+Senneby). I participate to one of their projects, entitled "Zero Magic". The project investigates some particular kinds of financial practices and reproduces them, in order to turn them into art. Our work has been highlighted by journalists and bloggers, including a recent article by Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine, "Magic Tricks and Vanishing Directors".


Articles and book reviews

With Marlène Benquet. "Founding a new regime of capital accumulation. Socio-history of the rise of the French private equity industry (1982-2017)". Working paper.

"Constructing social impact, between gift and asset. Ethnography of a European impact investing fund in the mid-2010s". Working paper.

"The body of financiers. Ethnographic study of the body foundations at work behind the allocation of financial capital in two private equity funds". Working paper.

"Optimising 'cash flows'. Converting corporate finance to hard currency". (accepted; online preview). Journal of Cultural Economy.

"Caring Capitalism. The Measure and Meaning of Social Value - By E. Barman". 2017. British Journal of Sociology, 68 (3) : 581-582. Book review.

Selection of conferences and seminars

"The body of financiers. Ethnographic study of the body foundations behind the allocation of financial capital in two private equity funds". December 2017. Social Studies of Finance Association (SSFA) seminar. Centre National des Arts et Métiers (Paris).

"Cash Culture: Converting Corporate Finance to Hard Currency". June 2017. 29th Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) conference. University Lyon Claude-Bernard (Lyon). This paper was awarded the Early Career Workshop Award.

"Ethnographies of social finance". March 2017. "Social finance, impact investing, and the financialization of public interest" conference. University of Hamburg (Hamburg). Discussant.

"The Dynamics of Financialisation: Ethnography of a Social Impact Fund". June 2016. 28th SASE conference. UC Berkeley (Berkeley).

"Quand les financiers investissent le social. La construction d'un business model de l'intermédiation financière du social". April 2016. "Financialisation and public policies" seminar organised by Eve Chiapello. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris).

Non-academic publications and conferences

With Simon Goldin, Jakob Senneby, and Katie Kitamura. "Zero Magic". January 2016. Useless Uses conference (Royal Institute of Arts/Kingston University London). Royal Institute of Art (Stockholm).

With Simon Goldin, Jakob Senneby, and Malin Nilsson. "Computer Assisted Magic Trick Executed in the Financial Markets".  May 2016. Patent number: US20160125542 (US patent; I'm registered as co-inventor and co-holder).

Academic trajectory

  • Research and teaching fellow, fixed term. Sciences Po (Paris). 2018-2019 (ongoing).
  • PhD in Sociology. University of Edinburgh. 2015-2018 (ongoing).
  • Visiting student researcher. UC Berkeley. Spring 2018 (invited by Marion Fourcade).
  • Master in Sociology. Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris-Saclay) and Université Paris Sorbonne. 2011-2015*.
  • Master in Affaires Publiques. Sciences Po (Paris). 2012-2014.
  • Bachelor in Sociology, Philosophy, Economics. Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris-Saclay**). 2008-2011.

*During the first year of my Master in Sociology, I spent a semester abroad as an exchange student at the Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca in Milan (Italy).

**Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay, formerly Ecole Normale Supérieure Cachan.

Teaching experience

September-December 2017: "Sociology of work" (22 hours). Université Paris-Nanterre. Topics: contemporary sociological approaches of work.

September-December 2017: "History of the sociological thought" (44 hours). Université Paris-Nanterre. Topics: main sociological theories, ranging from Max Weber to Pierre Bourdieu.

January-April 2017: "Sociology 1B. Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems" (27 hours). University of Edinburgh. Topics: body, identity, power and capitalism.

September-December 2016: "Sociology 1A. Sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society" (18 hours). University of Edinburgh. Topics: symbolic interactionism, sociology of violence, race studies and globalisation studies.

January-April 2016: "Statistical Literacy" (27 hours). University of Edinburgh. Topic: introducing undergraduate students to statistics.

Total teaching hours: 138 hours (this does not include marking, feedback, preparation time and office hours).

Funding, awards, grants

  • ESRC. £4000 Overseas Institutional Visit grant. 2018.
  • SASE conference. Early Career Workshop award. 2017.
  • ESRC. 3-year PhD scholarship. 2015-2018.
  • University of Edinburgh. 3-year PhD scholarship (complementary). 2015-2018.
  • Ecole Normale Supérieure. 4-year studentship (normalien status). 2010-2015.

Academic responsibilities

"Social finance, impact investing, and the financialization of public interest" conference, organised by Eve Chiapello and Lisa Knoll in March 2017. University of Hamburg. Member of the organisational committee.

"Financialization of valuation and public policies" research group, directed by Eve Chiapello and Lisa Knoll. Member of the group.

"Economic Sociology" thematical network, Association Française de Sociologie. Member of the organisational committee.

IDHES-Nanterre (France) research cluster. Affiliated PhD student.

Personal life

A French citizen, I was born and educated in the northeastern suburb of Paris. Over the past 10 years, I have been living in France, Italy, the UK and the US. As such, I speak fluently French and English and I have an intermediate/advanced level in Italian. Apart from social sciences, my personal interests include literature, politics, comics and climbing.