Prof. Dr. Volker Kirchberg
Professor for the Sociology of the Arts
In the 1980s, Volker Kirchberg studied sociology at the University of Hamburg; subsequently he worked as a research assistant at Professor Jürgen Friedrich’s urban research center of the same university. Between 1988 and 1991, he was a graduate student at the Institute for Policy Studies of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and cooperated as researcher with the University of Baltimore’s Schaefer Center for Public Policy. In 1992, he accomplished his dissertation at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Hamburg, with an empirical representative study on cultural attitudes and behavior of the residents of Baltimore. In the same year he got awarded a German Marshall Fund stipend to do research on arts sponsorship in the United States, again positioned in Baltimore. In 1995, he started the „Basica” social research institute in Hamburg. Here, he mostly conducted applied cultural research for, among others, the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [The House of History of the Federal Republic of Germany] in Bonn, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and the Jewish Museum in Berlin. In the late 1990s, when he moved to Berlin, his academic activity was also focused on adjunct teaching, among others at the Institute for Sociology of the Free University of Berlin. In 2003, he received the habilitation degree (i.e., a formal educational degree for professorship in Germany) in sociology at this university; the topic of his empirical research and subsequent publication was the “social functions of museums.” From 2000 to 2004 he lived and worked in the United States, where he obtained a tenure track assistant professorship for sociology at The William Paterson University of New Jersey. Even after his return to Germany for obtaining a full professorship at the Faculty of Cultural Studies in Lüneburg, he remained deeply connected to the United States in research and teaching. For example, he was Visiting Scholar at the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis of New York University (in 2010) and at the Department of Sociology of the New School of Social Research in New York (in 2014). Furthermore, he regularly teaches seminars on arts and culture in American contexts, and conducts biannual US excursions with students and colleagues, e.g., about the outreach campaigns of American museums (in 2010), about the national (Smithsonian) museums in Washington, D.C. (in 2012), about the significance of arts and culture in the urban development of New York (in 2014), and about the functions of artists in distressed cities (Detroit and Baltimore).
Since 2004/05 Volker Kirchberg is Professor for Cultural Organization and Cultural Communication at the Cultural Studies Faculty of Leuphana University in Lüneburg. His main research fields are (empirical) cultural sociology (especially the sociology of the arts), organizational sociology (especially in and for museums), issues of cultural communication and outreach (especially by museums), and urban sociology (especially the importance of arts and culture for urban development). From 2006 to 2010 he was the director of the Institute of Cultural Theory, Research and the Arts (the predecessor to the recent institute); from 2010 to 2012 he was vice dean for research of the Cultural Studies Faculty. Since 2015 he is the director of the Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organization. In addition, he is or was board member and/or section head of several international associations, e.g. the sociology of the arts research networks of the European Sociological Association and the International Sociological Association. Since 2016 he ist the chairman of the "Fachverband Kulturmangement", the association for the scientific analysis of arts management in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Apart from his theoretical interests in the sociology of the arts and in urban sociology, looking at the interfaces of arts and culture, cities and cultural sustainability, his methodological interests are focused on specific issues of empirical social research, e.g. quantitative museum visitor and reception research, representative surveys on cultural consumption, network research, especially on networks in art worlds, and qualitative studies of the arts, using a broad range of interview techniques and systematic content analyses.