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OS Director

Elizabeth Popp Berman

Elizabeth Popp Berman is the Richard H. Price Professor of Organizational Studies and (by courtesy) Sociology at the University of Michigan.

Berman has broad research interests in the production and use of knowledge, especially economic knowledge, and its intersection with morals and values.  Her new book, Thinking Like an Economist: How Efficiency Replaced Equality in U.S. Public Policy, shows how economic reasoning came to dominate Washington between the 1960s and the 1980s, and how it continues to constrain progressive ambitions today; it has been featured in a range of outlets including the New York Times, Boston Review, Foreign Affairs, and the New Yorker. At the most general level, she is interested in where our broad frameworks for thinking about social and economic problems come from, how those frameworks shape the choices we see as reasonable, and how they remain stable or, eventually, change. Her focus on these questions is motivated by a desire to contribute to the development of alternatives to a form of capitalism that has been harmful to ordinary people and destructive of the natural environment. Beth's research is primarily (though not exclusively) historical, and has mostly focused on how this framework was established between the 1960s and 1980s; she is also, increasingly, interested in mining earlier eras for ideas that can disrupt our taken-for-granted assumptions about how we should organize and govern economic activity.

Her first book, Creating the Market University: How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine, won multiple awards from the American Sociology Association and the Social Science History Association. She has served on multiple editorial boards, including the American Journal of Sociology and the American Sociological Review, and has written for broader audiences in outlets like the Washington Post.

In July 2022, Beth became director of the OS Program, and its first female director.