Paul Heelas

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Paul Lauchlan Faux Heelas (born 1946) is a British sociologist and anthropologist. He is noted for work in the field of spirituality, religion and modernity, with special reference to 'New Age' spiritualities of life. Recent publications and current research explore 'the sacred' and 'the secular'; transgressions of the secular (idealization, vitalization); 'life force', CAM, and 'spiritual humanism' (including 'third force' Sufism).

Heelas was educated at St Catherine's College, Oxford (BA Geography; Diploma, with Distinction, in Social Anthropology) and Exeter College, Oxford (DPhil Anthropology).

He served as Professor in Religion and Modernity, Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University, and as Senior Research Professor in the Sociology of Contemporary Spirituality, Department of Sociology, CROCUS research group, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

He spent over three years devoted to field research: Nepal (Sherpa religion), London (Programmes Ltd and Exegesis), Brazil (holistic Rio de Janeiro), India ('New Age' Madras and environs), Pakistan ('New Age' Islamabad and environs) and lived in Nepal, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Uganda,and Pakistan for over six years.

Heelas has helped found two journals: the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford and Cultural Values [now the Journal for Cultural Research].

Major research projects[edit]


A trilogy of volumes exploring 'alternative', inner-life spiritualities[edit]

A study of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh/Osho's path:

Spirituality in the Modern World[edit]

Cultural selves (spirituality/religion)[edit]

Spirituality/religion; culture/society[edit]