Paromita Sanyal
Associate Professor of Sociology
Ph.D., Sociology, Harvard University
Bellamy 613
Dr. Sanyal has three current areas of research. One area focuses on microcredit groups in India. Sanyal's research examines the degree to which group-based microfinance programs have empowered women, and whether any such empowerment has been due to the celebrated financial mechanism (women's entrepreneurship and income generation) or the "associational mechanism" that has the unintended effect of enhancing women's social networks and social capital and weakening gender related restrictions. A second area focuses on the micro institutions of democracy in rural India. Sanyal's research involves a qualitative analysis of mandated quarterly village assemblies where village development plans and government benefit allocations are discussed and debated publicly in the presence of elected local government leaders and state officials. Based on the transcripts from almost 300 village assemblies, Sanyal and her colleagues are examining how social position (poverty, gender, etc.) shapes participants' discursive strategies related to democracy. The third area of research involves a qualitative evaluation of a large scale 'Self-Help Group' (SHG) based (savings and lending groups) rural development program in one of India's poorest states using the treatment-control methodology. In latest collaborative work, Sanyal is bringing her areas of research together by examining if women's participation in microcredit SHGs fosters their political participation in the micro institutions of democracy.

More Information

Research Interest

Microcredit groups in India
Micro instritutions of democracy in rural India
SHG based rural development groups


Gender and Development
Economic Sociology
Introduction to Sociology

Education and Professional Experience

Ph.D., Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Sociology, 2008
M.A., Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, 1999
B.A., Presidency College, Kolkata, India, Sociology, 1997

Selected Papers and Publications

Sanyal, Paromita. 2014. Credit to Capabilities: A Sociological Study of Microcredit Groups in India. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Sanyal, Paromita. 2015. "Group-based Microcredit and Emergent Inequality in Social Capital: Why Socio-Religious Composition Matters." Qualitative Sociology 38(2): 103-137.

Sanyal, Paromita. 2015. "The Role of Emotions in Deliberative Development." Pp. 167-191 in Development and Deliberation: Rethinking the Role of Voice and Collective Action in Unequal Societies, edited by Patrick Heller and Vijayendra Rao. World Bank Group: Washington DC.

Rao, Vijayendra, and Paromita Sanyal. 2010. "Dignity through Discourse: Poverty and the Culture of Deliberation in Indian Village Democracies." The Annals of the American Association for Political and Social Sciences 629: 146-172.

Sanyal, Paromita. 2009. "From Credit to Collective Action: The Role of Microfinance in Promoting Women's Social Capital and Normative Influence." American Sociological Review 74(4): 529-550.

Sanyal, Paromita. 2006. "Capacity Building through Partnerships: Intermediary Nongovernmental Organizations as Local and Global Actors." Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 35(1): 66-82.

External Grants

International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) grant Research Project Title: Poverty and Empowerment Impacts of the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project Role: Co-PI Grant amount: $480,000. 3ie is a non-profit organization supporting evaluation research on development programs.