Emily Barman

Associate Professor

PhD, University of Chicago (2002)

Sociology 248C | 617.358.0651 | eabarman@bu.edu

Curriculum Vitae


Emily Barman

Emily Barman

Dr. Barman is an associate professor of Sociology and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for the College of Arts and Sciences.  Her scholarship focuses on the social organization of altruism and philanthropy. Rather than take it for granted that socially-oriented activity is the simple and straightforward outcome of individuals’ benevolence, Professor Barman’s research probes how societal factors can impede or facilitate such activity, structure the direction of socially-oriented behavior, and shape the goals and methods of social purpose organizations.  Her first book, Contesting Communities (Stanford University Press, 2006) — winner of the 2007 best book award from the National Association of Fundraising Professionals — showed how society’s changing conceptions of community altered the field of workplace charity. Research from this project was published in American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Dr. Barman’s recent book, Caring Capitalism: The Meaning and Measure of Social Value in the Market (Cambridge University Press, 2016) – which won the Best Book Prize from the PNP Division of the Academy of Management – 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 “social value” of goods and services gets determined.  Given the recent embrace of market-based solutions to social and environmental problems, the book compares across nonprofits, social enterprises, and multiple models of socially responsible businesses (including CSR, Impact Investing, Responsible Investment/ESG, and Inclusive Business) and, drawing from an array of qualitative methods, asks how such a shift has affected the valuation devices and discourses employed by those organizations to demonstrate their social value. Related research has been published in Journal of Management Studies, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Sociological Forum, Valuation Studies, and Voluntas.

Her new research project will focus on the causes and consequences of the rise of market-based approaches to pro-poor healthcare (such as advanced market commitments, health enterprises, and primary care franchises), as led by public and nonprofit actors including the Center for Health Market Innovations, the Gates Foundation, HANSHEP, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.



2017. “The Social Bases of Philanthropy.” Annual Review of Sociology 43(22):1-20.

2016. “Varieties of Field Theory and the Sociology of the Nonprofit Sector.” Sociology Compass 10(6):442-458.

2016. Caring Capitalism: The Meaning and Measure of Social Value in the Market. Cambridge University Press.

2015. “Of Principal and Principle: Value Plurality in the Market of Impact Investing.” Valuation Studies 3(1).

2015. (with Matthew Hall and Yuval Millo). “Who and What Really Counts? Accounting For Social Value and Its Relation To Stakeholder Prioritization” Journal of Management Studies.