|Born||January 19, 1946|
|Alma mater||Rutgers University (B.A.)|
Columbia University (M.A.) (Ph.D.)
|Known for||Economic sociology, relational sociology, cultural sociology, historical sociology, hostile worlds|
|Gerald L. Zelizer|
|Academic advisors||Sigmund Diamond, Bernard Barber, David Rothman, Robert K. Merton|
Viviana A. Rotman Zelizer (born January 19, 1946) is a sociologist and the Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. She is a prominent economic sociologist who focuses on the attribution of cultural and moral meaning to the economy. A constant theme in her work is economic valuation of the sacred, as found in such contexts as life insurance settlements and economic transactions between sexual intimates. In 2006 she was elected to the PEN American Center and in 2007 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Viviana Zelizer was born in Argentina, the daughter of S. Julio Rotman and Rosita Weill de Rotman. She attended University of Buenos Aires and studied law for two years. She immigrated to the United States in 1967 when she married her husband, Rabbi Gerald L. Zelizer, formerly the rabbi of Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen, New Jersey. She attended Rutgers University where she graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in 1971. She went on to graduate school in sociology at Columbia University where she received an M.Phil and an M.A. in 1974. In 1977, Zelizer received a Ph.D. in sociology.
Zelizer has identified four scholars at Columbia who influenced her intellectual career: Sigmund Diamond, Bernard Barber, David Rothman, and Robert K. Merton. Diamond (whose PhD was in history) and Barber were her primary mentors in sociology, and Rothman in the history department. Zelizer has said that Merton was always present, but at a distance.
Zelizer's unique approach to sociology by way of social history was an initial burden, as she recounts:
I remember all too painfully an early interview for a job in a university sociology department during which my interrogators asked pointedly how my social historical research qualified as sociology at all.
Zelizer joined the Department of Sociology at Rutgers University from 1976-1978. In 1976, she took an assistant professorship at Barnard College and Graduate Faculty of Columbia University, and advanced to full professor in 1985. She then joined the sociology faculty at Columbia University as a full professor, where she chaired the Department of Sociology from 1992-1996. She was named the Lloyd Cotsen '50 Professor of Sociology in 2002.
From 1987 to 1988 she was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, where she met another visiting scholar, sociologist Charles Tilly. At Princeton she interacted with influential colleagues Paul DiMaggio and Alejandro Portes, as well as Michael Katz, then at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 2001, she was the elected the first chair of the newly created Economic Sociology section of the American Sociological Association. In 2003 the Economic Sociology section named its annual book prize the Viviana A. Zelizer Distinguished Book Award. In 2001 she was elected a member of the Council of the section on Comparative/Historical Sociology of the ASA.