Jennifer C. Lena

Jennifer C. Lena

Research Interest


Jennifer C. Lena is an Associate Professor of Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Sociology. She is co-editor of the journal Poetics, and co-editor (with Frederick Wherry) of a book series, Culture and Economic Life, published by Stanford University Press. She is past Chair of the Sociology of Culture Section of the American Sociological Association. 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. Her research focuses on understanding processes of classification, particularly the organizational and institutional conditions for the creation, modification, or elimination of cultural categories like genres. Lena also examines non-profit executive transitions and organizational closure, particularly in the visual and performing arts, and service organizations. She is the author of three books: Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music (Princeton University Press, 2012), which was named one of Choice Reviews Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012; Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts (Princeton University Press, 2019); and Measuring Culture (Columbia University Press, 2020). Her research has been published in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Poetics, and American Behavioral Scientist, among other peer-reviewed journals, and has been reprinted in texts dedicated to highlighting excellence in social science methods, hip-hop scholarship, and the sociology of culture. 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). Her current work includes a collaborative project with Léonie Hénaut (Sciences Po, CRNS) on polyoccupationalism in the arts.


John Mohr, Christopher Bail, Maggie Frye, Jennifer C. Lena, Omar Lizardo, Terence McDonnell, Ann Mische, Iddo Tavory, and Frederick Wherry. 2020. Measuring Culture. Columbia University Press

Lena, Jennifer C. 2019. Entitled: Discriminating Tastes and the Expansion of the Arts. Princeton University Press.

Lena, Jennifer C. 2018. “The Process Model of Closure and Nonprofits: The Exit of Exit Art.” Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society. Vol. 48 (1): 17-31.

Lena, Jennifer C. and Erin Johnston. 2015. “U.S. Cultural Engagement with Global Muslim Communities: Contours and Connections in an Emerging Field.” Grantmakers in the Arts Reader. Vol. 26 (1): 9-13.

Lena, Jennifer C. 2015. “Culture, Production of: Prospects for the Twenty-First Century.” International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences2nd Edition. Section Ed. Kees van Rees; Ed. in Chief, James Wright. Elsevier. Pp. 608-613.

Lena, Jennifer C. 2012. Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music. Princeton University Press.