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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Théo Bourgeron

Théo Bourgeron
Théo Bourgeron
Sociology School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Research Interests
Anthropology of Money, Sociology of finance, Welfare reform politics, Corporate finance, Private equity, Impact investing, Dynamics of capitalism

Current research

I am currently a second-year PhD candidate at the university of Edinburgh. 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 from Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine, "Magic Tricks and Vanishing Directors".


  • Visiting research student. UC Berkeley. January-March 2018 (expected).
  • PhD in Sociology. University of Edinburgh. 2015-2018 (ongoing).
  • 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.

*I took one gap year to attend my Sciences Po master and another one to do a research internship at the university of Edinburgh. During the first year of my Master in Sociology, I also spent one 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.


Articles and book reviews

"Cash Culture: Converting Corporate Finance to Hard Currency". Working paper.

"Caring Capitalism. The Measure and Meaning of Social Value - By E. Barman". 2017. British Journal of Sociology (book review).

Conferences and seminars

"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.

"Constructing Social Impact Measurement Devices: the 'Social Carried-Interest' Case". 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).

"Cash-flow culture, monetary circulation and contemporary capitalism". March 2016. "New Directions" doctoral seminar of the School of Social and Political Sciences. University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh).

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

Other publications

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

Funding and awards

  • Early Career Workshop Award. Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. 2017.
  • Economic and Social Research Council. 3-year PhD scholarship. 2015-2018.
  • Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh. 3-year PhD scholarship. 2015-2018.
  • Ecole Normale Supérieure. 4-year studentship (normalien status). 2010-2015.

Teaching experience

From January to April 2017, I tutored for the undergraduate course "Sociology 1B. Sociological Imagination: Private Troubles, Public Problems" (27 hours). The course is divided in four main themes: body, identity, power and capitalism.

From September to December 2016, I tutored for the undergraduate course "Sociology 1A. Sociological Imagination: Individuals and Society" (18 hours). The course is divided in four main units: symbolic interactionism, sociology of violence, race studies and globalisation studies.

From January to April 2016, I tutored for the "Statistical Literacy" course (27 hours). The course consists in introducing undergraduate students to statistics.

All these teaching experiences have taken place at the university of Edinburgh.

Professional experience

  • Research assistant to Goldin+Senneby. Participation to the Zero Magic project. 2015-2017 (ongoing, part-time).
  • Intern in financial institutions. As a participant observer during my ethnographic work, I interned in two European private equity funds: I wrote reports related to the social impact and the internal labour organisation of these funds. 2015-2016 (3+2 months)*.
  • Research internship, University of Edinburgh. Gathering empirical material related to the sociology of M&A banking and private equity,  under the supervision of Donald MacKenzie. 2015 (6 months).

I am also an anonymous reviewer for the Finance & Society journal since 2016.

*My research being partly elaborated on these experiences, I cannot disclose the name of these two financial institutions.

Personal life

A French citizen, I was born and educated in the northeastern suburb of Paris. Over the past 7 years, I have been living in France, Scotland, England and Italy. 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.