Stef Aupers (1969) is a cultural sociologist and works as professor media culture at the Institute for Media Studies at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Most of his work deals with religion, spirituality and 're-enchantment' in modern societies and, particularly, the way such cultural beliefs are mediatized. With Peter Pels and Dick Houtman, he collaborated in the NWO-funded research project Cyberspace Salvations: Computer Technology, Simulation, and Modern Gnosis. This research project (2004-2007) departed from the elective affinity between ICT and religion and studied spirituality in Silicon Valley; religious communities on the internet and the manifestation of religion in online computer games. During the period 2012-2016, he was involved in another NWO-funded research project titled Conspiracy Culture in the Netherlands: Modernity and Its Cultural Discontents together with Peter Achterberg, Dick Houtman and Jaron Harambam (PhDstudent).
Currently, Stef is still publishing on these topics but is primarily working on game culture. From 2014 he is involved in the project Secularization and Religious Play' (with Lars de Wildt, PhD student). In 2017 he started the research project 'Games of Social Control. A Sociological Study of 'Addiction' to Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games' that was funded by FWO and KU Leuven (with Iulia Coanda and Cindy Krassen, PhDstudents). In this project it is studied in what way game-related networks and institutions compete with and impede on 'primary' social networks of hardcore gamers.
Stef published - often together with his colleagues – in journals like New Media & Society; European Journal of Communication; Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; Cultural Sociology; Information, Communication and Society, Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Asian Journal of Social Science, Journal of Contemporary Religion, American Behavioral Scientist and The Public Understanding of Science. His latest international books are Religions of Modernity: Relocating the Sacred to the Self and the Digital (Leiden: Brill, 2010, edited with Dick Houtman) and Paradoxes of Individualization: Social Control and Social Conflict in Contemporary Modernity (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011, with Dick Houtman and Willem de Koster).