Emily Barman

Professor & Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

PhD, University of Chicago (2002)

Sociology 248C | 617.358.0651 | eabarman@bu.edu

Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Barman is a professor of Sociology and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School 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) – winner of prizes from the American Academy of Management and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action – 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.


SELECT PUBLICATIONS (for complete list, see CV)


2016. Caring Capitalism: The Meaning and Measure of Social Value in the Market (Cambridge U. Press). Winner of the Best Book Prize from the American Academy of Management’s Public and Nonprofit (PNP) Division; Winner of the Virginia A. Hodgkinson Book Prize given by ARNOVA (The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action).

2007. Contesting Communities: the Transformation of Workplace Charity (Stanford U. Press). Winner of the 2006 Skystone Ryan Prize for Research on Fundraising and Philanthropy, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


Forthcoming. “From Value to Valuation: The Construction of Judgment Devices for Social Finance.” Historical Social Research

2018. “Doing Well By Doing Good: A Comparative Analysis of ESG Standards for Responsible Investment.” Advances in Strategic Management 38:289-312.

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.

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.

with Olafsdottir, Sigrun and Elyas Bakhtiari. 2014. “Public or Private? The Role of the State and Civil Society in Health and Health Inequalities Across Nations.” Social Science and Medicine 10:174-181.

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

with Heather MacIndoe. 2013. “How Organizational Stakeholders Shape Performance Measurement in Nonprofits: Exploring A Multidimensional Measure.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42(4):716-738.

with Heather MacIndoe. 2012. “Organizational Capacity, Institutions, and the Diffusion of Organizational Practices: The Case of Outcome Measurement.” Sociological Forum 27(1):70-93.

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