Barbara Kiviat

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Barbara Kiviat

Barbara Kiviat is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. She is an economic sociologist who studies how moral beliefs and other cultural understandings shape markets and justify the inequalities they produce. She is particularly interested in how normative ideas influence the pricing and allocation of socially important resources, such as insurance, credit, and jobs. Her current project considers how these dynamics play out when corporations use massive amounts of personal data to decide what to offer to individual consumers. She mostly uses qualitative data and methods, including in-depth interviews, archives, and ethnographic observation. She also at times works with survey data and vignette experiments.

Kiviat’s research has received awards or funding from the American Sociological Association, the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and other groups. Her work has been published in American Sociological Review, Socio-Economic Review, Sociological Science, Socius, and other journals.

Kiviat holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University. She holds an M.P.A. from New York University, an M.A. in Journalism from Columbia University, and a B.A. in the Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University. Previously, she was a staff writer at Time magazine. Her website provides more information.

Latest Publications

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

Kiviat, Barbara. 2023. “The Moral Affordances of Construing People as Cases: How Algorithms and the Data They Depend on Obscure Narrative and Noncomparative Justice.” Sociological Theory 41(3):175-200.

Kiviat, Barbara. 2021. “Which Data Fairly Differentiate? American Views on the Use of Personal Data in Two Market Settings.” Sociological Science 8:26-47.

Kiviat, Barbara. 2019. “Credit Scoring in the United States.” Economic Sociology: The European Electronic Newsletter21(1):33-42.

Kiviat, Barbara. 2019. “The Art of Deciding with Data: Evidence from How Employers Translate Credit Reports into Hiring Decisions.” Socio-Economic Review 17(2):283-309.

Kiviat, Barbara. 2019. “The Moral Limits of Predictive Practices: The Case of Credit-Based Insurance Scores.” American Sociological Review 84(6):1134–1158.

O’Brien, Rourke, Adam Hayes, and Barbara Kiviat (equal authorship). 2022. “Deciding Between Domains: How Borrowers Weigh Market and Interpersonal Options.” Social Psychology Quarterly 85(4):327-350.


Building 120, Room 236

Office Hours

Office Hours

By appointment (email me)