Emily Barman

Associate Professor

PhD, University of Chicago (2002)

Sociology 248C | 617.358.0651 | eabarman@bu.edu

Curriculum Vitae


Emily Barman

Emily Barman

I received a B.A. in history and sociology from the University of British Columbia (1991), a MA (1994) and PhD (2002) in sociology from the University of Chicago. My research focuses on the social organization of altruism and philanthropy. Rather than take it for granted that altruistic giving is the simple and straightforward outcome of individuals’ benevolence, my research probes how social organization can impede or facilitate such giving, structure the direction and patterns of philanthropy, and shape the very goals that nonprofit organizations pursue.  For example, in my book, Contesting Communities (Stanford University Press, 2006) – winner of the 2007 best book award from the National Association of Fundraising Professionals — I show how society’s changing conceptions of community have fundamentally transformed the goals and practices of workplace charity. I have published in American Journal of SociologySocial Forces, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector QuarterlyVoluntas, and Nonprofit Management and Leadership, as well as other journals and edited volumes.

My current book, tentatively titled Valuing Social Good (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press), investigates social value as a distinct order of worth.  We know much about how the economic value of goods and services is set in the market, but much less about how the worth of social goods gets determined.  Comparing across nonprofits, social enterprises, and socially responsible businesses and drawing from interviews, content analysis, and secondary data, I examine the central logics and practices used to establish social value across the three fields.  As the production of public goods has dispersed from the nonprofit sector and into the private sphere, I ask how the proximity of producers to the market affects what valuation devices and regimes of justification are employed by actors to demonstrate the value of goods and activities.


Forthcoming. Valuing Social Good: Mission, Measure and Market. Cambridge University Press.

2013.  “Classification Struggles in the Nonprofit Sector: The Formation of the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities, 1969-1987.” Social Science History.

2013. (with Heather MacIndoe). “Why Nonprofit Managers Use Outcome Measurement: a Multidimensional Measure.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

2012. (with Heather MacIndoe). “Institutional Pressures and Organizational Capacity: The Case of Outcome Measurement.” Sociological Forum .

2009. “Partnerships and Performance: The State of the Boston Nonprofit Sector” (with H. MacIndoe). Boston: University of Massachusetts Boston Research Report

2008.  “With Strings Attached: Nonprofits’ Adoption of Donor Choice.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 31(1):39-56.

2008. “Organizational Genesis in the Nonprofit Sector: An Analysis of Demand, Supply, and Community Characteristics.” International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior 11(1):40-63.

2007. “An Institutional Approach to Donor Control: From Dyadic Ties to a Field-Level Analysis.” American Journal of Sociology 112(5):1416-1457.

2007. “What is the Bottom Line for Nonprofit Organizations? A History of Measurement in the British Voluntary Sector.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 18(2):101-115.

2006. Contesting Communities: The Transformation of Workplace Charity. Stanford University Press. Winner, 2007 AFP Skystone Ryan Research Prize.