About Jennifer C. Lena


Jennifer C Lena is a cultural sociologist who studies classification, particularly the organizational and institutional conditions for the creation, modification, or elimination of cultural categories like genres.

 She currently works as an Associate Professor of Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University and has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Sociology. She is also the Thesis Advisor for the eMBA program at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, part of Steinbeis University.  She is co-editor of the journal Poetics, and co-editor (with Frederick Wherry and Greta Hsu) of a book series, Culture and Economic Life, published by Stanford University Press.

Lena holds an MA, MPhil, and PhD in Sociology from Columbia University, and a BA from Colgate University.

She is a past fellow of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton University, and the Curb Center for Arts, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, and held faculty positions at Vanderbilt University and Barnard College. She is past Chair of the Sociology of Culture Section of the American Sociological Association. Lena has served as Senior Research Scholar for the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project at Indiana University, and assisted in the development and revision of that survey of over 200,000 graduates from art programs spread across North America. In 2000, she was Inaugural Resident Scholarat the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s show, “Hip Hop America: Roots, Rhythm and Rage.” Lena is reputed to be the first sociologist to commission a Grammy-nominated album: Hilos (composer: Gabriela Frank; performed by ALIAS Chamber Ensemble; released in 2010 by Naxos Records).

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