Jennifer Lena

I am a sociologist of culture who studies classification systems, specifically the conditions that facilitate the proliferation or contraction of categories into which art works are sorted. In my work I examine the economic, aesthetic, racial, and organizational conditions for category emergence, primarily through the study of genres and sub-genres within American music.

My early research focused on a simple question: What is the relationship between aesthetic content and social context? In my second project, I asked: What are the characteristic forms that musical communities take, and how do they change over time? In my next project, I will address the question: What is the relationship between aesthetic categories and taste?

In addition to my scholarly research, I write a blog called What is the What? I also teach courses on culture (music, art, creative industries), organizations and work, race, and a variety of related topics.