Paromita Sanyal is an economic sociologist who studies development. The primary focus of her research is to bring a sociological understanding to processes of economic development and to the workings of anti-poverty interventions. In keeping with this focus, she is interested in exploring the interrelationships between culture and the economy. One the one hand, she tries to understand how social variables, like gender and group identity, mediate the influence of economic interventions and influence the political participation of subordinated groups in democratic institutions geared toward achieving economic redistribution and equity.
On the other hand, Sanyal explores the unintended social consequences of economic interventions in the form of promoting cooperation or exacerbating conflict. Methodologically, she specializes in the use of qualitative methods, including multi-sited interviews, ethnographic case studies, and narrative analysis.