Emily Barman

Associate Professor

PhD, University of Chicago (2002)

Sociology 248C | 617.358.0651 | eabarman@bu.edu

Curriculum Vitae


Emily Barman

Emily Barman

My 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, my research probes how social organization can impede or facilitate such activity, structure the direction and patterns of socially-oriented behavior, and shape the very goals that social purpose organizations pursue.  My 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 fundamentally transformed the goals and practices of workplace charity – the single most important site for charitable donations in the United States. Research from this project was published in American Journal of SociologySocial Forces, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

My new book, Caring Capitalism: The Meaning and Measure of Social Value in the Market (Cambridge University Press, 2016) 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.  As the production of social goods has dispersed from the nonprofit sector and into the market, I compare across nonprofits, social enterprises, and socially responsible businesses and, drawing from an array of qualitative methods, ask how such a shift has affected the valuation devices and discourses employed by organizations to demonstrate the social value of their goods and activities. Related research also has been published in Journal of Management Studies, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Sociological Forum, Valuation Studies, and Voluntas. 


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

2014. (with Sigrun Olafsdottir and Elyas Bahktiari). “Public or Private? The Role of the State and Civil Society in Health and Health Inequalities Across Nations.” Social Science and Medicine 123:174-181.

2013. “Classification Struggles in the Nonprofit Sector: The Formation of the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities, 1969-1987.” Social Science History. 37(1):103-141.

2013. (with Heather MacIndoe). “Why Nonprofit Managers Use Outcome Measurement: a Multidimensional Measure.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42(4):716–738.

2012. (with Heather MacIndoe). “Institutional Pressures and Organizational Capacity: The Case of Outcome Measurement.” Sociological Forum 27(1):70-93.