Claudio Benzecry , Professor of Sociology
Office: 224 Manchester Hall
Telephone: (860) 486-8003
New York University , Ph.D. (Sociology), 2007
Universidad de General San Martín , M.A. Studies
(Cultural Analysis), 2000
University of Buenos Aires , Licenciatura (Political
I came to U Conn in September of 2007, after having completed my Ph D at NYU. I’ve published on digital media and cultural production, intellectual sociability and literary value and the micro-macro link when analyzing art worlds and cultural consumption. My research sites include Argentina and the US.
The University of Chicago Press has recently published my book, The Opera Fanatic. Ethnography of an Obsession. Based on three years of fieldwork, archival research and 44 in depth interviews, this study serves to make more complex the relationship between engagement with high cultural products and the attainment of social status. Honor in this case is not related to how much recognition fans can gather from peers outside of the opera house or in how much they can convert their lifestyle in capitals and resources (money, connections, jobs) but rather with how they craft themselves as honorable people. Passionate fans produce themselves as worthy selves, through a laborious, sustained long-term engagement with opera.
The Opera Fanatic has received the 2012 American Sociological Association’s Mary Douglas Award given to the best book in the sociology of culture. The Spanish translation was published in May 2012 by Siglo XXI.
I’m currently working on 4 projects. The first one, is a stand-alone piece, in direct relation to my previous research. The objective of this particular study is to understand how much social closure the elites managed to produce on opera attendance in Buenos Aires during the foundational period of its main house, the Teatro Colón (1908-1931). As a result of it, I’m writing a comparative article focused on the organization of opera in Buenos Aires and Milan, with an emphasis in the interplay of elites, immigrant populations, mass parties and State institutions in the early organization of high culture and its consequences in terms of audience stratification.
The second project, a collaboration with colleague Andrew Deener, looks at the micro level of the political economy of fashion globalization, focusing on trend forecasting agencies, second rate clothing and accessories companies and urban retail districts and the ways in which they participate in producing both patterns of innovation and reproduction. The study started by focusing in a few firms from New York, Buenos Aires and L.A., but we hope to extend it to other locations later on.
A third project, with Argentinean Anthropologist Pablo Semán, looks at the similar mechanisms through which Pentecostal churches and garage rock bands establish their legitimacy within poor neighborhoods of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area. The resulting article contributes to the literature by looking at a micro level (and in a Latin American context) at the ways in which particular entrepreneurs accumulate resources and achieve legitimacy of the cultural classifications within the larger musical and religious context.
I have recently started a fourth project, the study of professional elites in Argentina seen through an interview and archival based study of the economic, professional and social lives (1984-2010) of the graduates of the most prestigious public high school in the country: the National School of Buenos Aires (CNBA). The aim of the project is threefold. First, it seeks to understand the impact of large scale social structure transformations in the personal lives of middle class professionals; secondly, it locates the particular ways in which graduates from this school distinguish themselves from others and their social trajectories; and thirdly, it understands how the professional middle class reproduced itself in a moment of political, economical and social upheaval.
The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Reviewed in American Journal of Sociology, Contemporary Sociology, Canadian Journal of Sociology, European Journal of Sociology, Cultural Sociology, Culture
Winner of ASA’s Mary Douglas Best Book in Sociology of Culture Award, 2012.
Spanish Translation: El Fanático de la Opera. Etnografía de una obsesión. Buenos Aires and Mexico: Siglo XXI Editores. May 2012.
2010 C. E. Benzecry and M. Krause. Qualitative Sociology. Special Issue on Knowledge in Practice.
2012 “Opera Thugs and the Making of Passionate Fandom.” Contexts 12 no 3: 39-46. Summer Issue.
2012 “Los viajes de un zapato en la economía global.” Nueva Sociedad. Revista
Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales 241: 105-122 (w/Andrew Deener).
2012 “La cultura. Instrucciones de uso” in C. E. Benzecry (ed.) Hacia una nueva sociología cultural. Buenos Aires: Quilmes University Press.
2010 “How do they know? Practicing knowledge in a comparative perspective.” Introduction to Qualitative Sociology 33 no.4: 414-422. Special Issue on Knowledge in practice (w/Monika Krause).
2010 “Everything is dirt. Reevaluating the place of cultural status in aesthetic attachment” in E. de la Fuente (ed.) Philosophical and Cultural Theories of Music. Boston and Leiden: Brill. Pp. 263-286.
2009 “Becoming a fan. On the seductions of opera.” Qualitative Sociology 32 no. 2. (leading article).
2009 “Presentación: Actualidad de Howard Becker.” Introductory Study in Becker, Howard. Outsiders. Buenos Aires, México and Madrid: Siglo XXI editores.
2008 “Azul y Oro. The many social lives of a football jersey.” Theory, Culture and Society 25 no 1.
2007 “Beauty at the gallery. Operatic community and sentimental education in contemporary Buenos Aires” in C. Calhoun and R. Sennett (eds.) Practicing Culture. New York and London: Routledge.
2006 “With a little help from my friends. Intellectual sociability and literary value in contemporary Buenos Aires.” Ethnography 7 no. 2. (leading article).
2006 “Curtain Rising, Baton Falling. The Politics of Musical Conducting in Contemporary Argentina." Theory and Society 35 no. 4.
2005 (w/Eric Klinenberg) “Cultural Production in a Digital Age.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 59 no 7. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. (leading article).
Links to media coverage of my research: