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Research Students - Social Anthropology  
Radu Umbres  


Year of start:2007
Subject: Social Anthropology

Provisional Dissertation Title

Folk Theories of the Social in a Romanian Village


Dr. Michael Stewart
Dr. Luke Freeman


I study the way people think about matters social, based on my ethnography conducted in a Romanian village. My research focused on moral classification of persons as exposed in social interaction and symbolical communication. I propose a theoretical model of folk theories of the social as an analytical tool for understanding cultural practices and representations of social relationships. My research revisits classical anthropological domains such as kinship and ritual, authority and conflict or the gift-commodity debate, while building upon interdisciplinary insights from social contract theory, cognitive studies and new approaches in economics.

Research interests

  • Folk theories
  • Moral reasoning
  • Trust and cooperation
  • Kinship and friendship
  • Economic and political practices
  • Ritual and communication
  • Cognition
  • Social contract theory
  • Methodological individualism and social institutions
  • Game theory
  • Social dramaturgy
  • Eastern Europe
  • Village society

Academic Background/Education

I was initially trained as a sociologist and economist in Romania. My research focused on migration and entrepreneurship in rural Romania. I have read for an MSc in Sociology at the University of Oxford, ending with a dissertation on class mobility in post-socialist Romania. I am currently reading for a PhD in Social Anthropology at UCL. I am also teaching a class in Statistical Methods for Anthropology for graduate and post-graduate students at LSE, SOAS and UCL.

Honours and Awards

MSc in Sociology (Oxford, Distinction)
BA in Sociology (University of Bucharest, First Class)
BA in Economics (Bucharest Academy of Economic Sciences, Upper-second Class)
The International Cognition & Culture Institute Research Grant (with Catalina Tesar), 2011
Diego Gambetta Puzzle Prize, University of Oxford, 2007


Collective Action (2007), in Zamfir C. Encyclopedia of Social Development: Iasi, Polirom
Migration and Entrepreneurship. Social Change in Rural Romania (2006): Iasi, Lumen

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