Viviana A. Zelizer is a renowned sociologist who has made significant contributions to the field of economic sociology. Her groundbreaking work exploring the relationship between money and intimacy has challenged traditional views of the role of money in society.
Early Life and Education
Viviana A. Zelizer was born in Argentina in 1946. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was a young girl, and she grew up in Queens, New York. Zelizer attended Queens College, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy in 1968.
After completing her undergraduate studies, Zelizer decided to pursue a PhD in sociology at Columbia University. She was particularly interested in exploring the social and cultural dimensions of economic behavior, and her dissertation focused on the role of money in family life.
Career and Contributions
Zelizer began her academic career at the University of Chicago, where she taught sociology for several years. In 1989, she joined the faculty at Princeton University, where she has remained ever since. She was promoted to full professor in 1991 and was named the Lloyd Cotsen ’50 Professor of Sociology in 1997.
Throughout her career, Zelizer has made significant contributions to the field of economic sociology. She is best known for her work on the relationship between money and intimacy, which challenges traditional views of the role of money in society. Zelizer argues that money is not just a medium of exchange but also a cultural symbol that reflects social norms and values.
In her book, “The Social Meaning of Money,” Zelizer explores the social and cultural dimensions of money. She argues that money is not a neutral economic commodity but is instead shaped by social and cultural norms. Zelizer’s work challenges traditional economic theories that view money as a simple medium of exchange.
One of Zelizer’s most influential papers is “The Purchase of Intimacy,” which explores the commodification of personal relationships. Zelizer argues that money is not just a measure of value but also a way of expressing the worth of personal relationships. She challenges the idea that romantic and familial relationships are somehow immune to the influence of money and instead asserts that money plays a central role in shaping these relationships.
Zelizer has also explored the relationship between gender and money. In her book, “The Social Meaning of Money,” she argues that women’s economic activity has historically been devalued and that this has had significant implications for women’s social and political status.
Awards and Honors
Zelizer’s contributions to the field of economic sociology have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. In 2017, she was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, which is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize in Political Science.” She has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.
Zelizer has been married to the economist Mark A. Zelizer since 1970. Together they have two children and four grandchildren. In her free time, Zelizer enjoys cooking and baking, and she is known for her homemade bread and baked goods.
Viviana A. Zelizer is a pioneering sociologist whose work has challenged traditional views of the role of money in society. Her contributions to the field of economic sociology have been widely recognized, and she has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career. Zelizer’s work on the relationship between money and intimacy has opened up new avenues of inquiry for sociologists and has had significant implications for our understanding of economic behavior.