Of Principle and Principal: Value Plurality in the Market of Impact Investing


  • Emily Barman Department of Sociology, Boston University, USA




Economic sociology, valuation, value plurality, intermediaries, concerned markets, impact investing


Impact investing-investment with the intentional expectation of social or environmental impact alongside financial return-constitutes one of a growing array of “concerned markets” where economic exchange is employed as a means to pursue financial and social or environmental value. Drawing from the pragmatist turn in valuation studies, this article attends to the valuation work that took place in the formation of this new market, examining how market proponents as evaluators recognized, defined, and negotiated the presence of value complexity in impact investing. I frame the market of impact investing as a case of market design complete with experiments, one in which advocates produced a valuation infrastructure so as to address investors’ difficulty in ascertaining the social and environmental value - as a distinct regime of value from financial value - of an investment. These experimenters extended judgment devices from mainstream finance to construct calculative tools in this setting that permitted the social or environmental value of investments to be brought into being and to be made calculable for investors without being assigned a financial value. The study contributes to literature that theorizes the conditions underlying evaluators’ mediation of the multiple registers of value at work in the making of markets.




How to Cite

Barman, Emily. 2015. “Of Principle and Principal: Value Plurality in the Market of Impact Investing”. Valuation Studies 3 (1):9-44. https://doi.org/10.3384/VS.2001-5592.15319.