Werner Schirmer is a senior researcher at the Department of Sociology and the TOR Research Group. He studied sociology, psychology and political science at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich where he also earned his PhD with a thesis using a Luhmannian perspective on the communicative construction of security threats in international relations. Furthermore, he holds a Swedish Docent title obtained at Uppsala University.
At the VUB he teaches courses on classical and contemporary social theory as well as modules on the link between digitalisation and social relations.
Schirmer’s previous research covers topics such as disrespect and intolerance in ethnic relations, priority setting in healthcare, inclusion/exclusion, theories of social problems, the sociology of social work, and loneliness among older people.
In collaboration with VUB-partners SMIT and BAS as well as CPFH of the University of Antwerp, he currently works on the FWO-funded SBO-project "Digital ageing: How seniors can appreciate the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of a digitalizing society". This multi-disciplinary project investigates how the ubiquity of internet, apps and digital devices changes, and possibly improves, the lives of older people. At the same time, it aims to foster a critical-reflexive attitude toward risks and drawbacks of digital technologies.
In line with his general research interest on the nexus digitalisation and society, Werner Schirmer's research also covers the impact of new technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality on social relations.