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Karel Dobbelaere (born 16 September 1933) is a Belgian educator and noted sociologist of religion. Dobbelaere is an Emeritus Professor of both the University of Antwerp and the Catholic University of Leuven (Louvain) in Belgium. He is past-President and General Secretary of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion.[1]

Academic career

Karel Dobbelaere was born in Nieuwpoort in Belgium on 16 September 1933. He studied at the Katholieke Universiteit (Catholic University) in Leuven, where he received his doctorate in Social Sciences in 1966. He was appointed a professor at Katholieke Universiteit in 1968. He has done important work in the area of the place of religion in the social fabric, and how secularization of religious roles in public institutions affects both society and religion. He has done fieldwork with Bryan R. Wilson in researching new religious movements and sects. He also contributed for many years on the Social Sciences committee in Belgium's National Fund for Scientific Research.[2]

His teaching focus was sociology and the sociology of religion. His research fields have been in the effects of religious participation and in new religious movements and sects.[1]

He is a member of both the Academia Europaea and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Fine Arts. He also has held visiting professorships at various institutions and universities worldwide. He has authored, coauthored and edited over 200 books, articles and studies.[3]

Among his published works are the books Secularization: An Analysis at Three Levels (P.I.E.—Peter Lang, 2002), A Time to Chant (Clarendon, 1994) and Secularization: A Multidimensional Concept (Sage, 1982).[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Beckford, James A.; James T. Richardson (2003). Challenging Religion: Essays in Honour of Eileen Barker. London, United Kingdom: Routledge. p. ix. ISBN 978-0-4153-0948-6.
  2. Laermans, Rudi; Bryan R. Wilson, Jaak Billiet (1998). Secularization and Social Integration: Papers in Honor of Karel Dobbelaere. Leuven/Louvain, Belgium: Leuven University Press. pp. xi–xiv. ISBN 90-6186-932-3.
  3. Barker, Eileen (2008). The Centrality of Religion in Social Life: Essays in Honour of James A. Beckford. Aldershot, Hampshire, United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-7546-6515-1.
  4. Swatos, William H..; Kivisto, Peter (1998). Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. United Kingdom: Rowman Altamira. p. 141. ISBN 9780761989561.

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