Ruben Below

Ruben Below

Johannisstr. 1
48143 Münster

T: +49 251 83-23335

  • Research Areas

    • Sociology of religion, esp. esotericism and spirituality
    • Political Sociology and Theory of Ideology
    • Conspiracy theories and extremism
    • Quantitative methods: psychometrics and econometrics
  • Doctoral Thesis

    [working title] Spirituality and Spiritualism - the Political Dimensions of Esotericism

    Doctoral Subject
    Awarded by
    Department 06 – Education and Social Studies

    Particularly due to the frequently esoteric conspiracy theories and protests against the measures to contain the Corona virus and against the Covid vaccinations, alternative spiritual beliefs have become a strong focus of political public attention in recent years.

    However, a concise and consistent, empirically tested definition of esotericism remains notoriously difficult due to the high diversity of spiritual beliefs, which in turn often prevents reliable statements on their political relevance. In my dissertation, I therefore want to fundamentally and systematically elaborate and differentiate the political dimensions and concrete ideological content of esotericism/alternative spirituality. Using concepts from research on religious fundamentalism and radicalization, I would like to further examine under which conditions a spiritual worldview tends to be harmless or even progressive, and under which it becomes reactionary and conspiracist. To be able to answer this question precisely, I will try to work out core elements of spiritual and esoteric worldviews and practices, whereby I am particularly interested in the differentiation between ecclesiastical religiosity, non-ecclesiastical spirituality and so-called superstition.

    Methodologically, I will apply various statistical procedures for the evaluation of surveys, socio-demographic datasets and election results in Germany. I will also substantiate the statistical results with detailed qualitative interviews of committed members of the spiritual scene.

  • CV


    Participation in the course 'Experiments in Social Sciences: Online Experiments', at the University College London
    Participation in the 'Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis', in the course 'Advanced Survey Data Analysis and Survey Experiments', at the University of Essex
    Participation in the 'Oxford Spring School in Advanced Research Methods', in the course 'Causal Inference', at the University of Oxford
    PhD Candidate in Sociology at the Cluster of Excellence 'Religion and Politics, University of Münster
    M.A. Sociocultural Studies, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder)
    B.A. Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin
    Erasmus semester at the Institut d'Études Politiques d'Aix-en-Provence, France


    Research Associate at the Cluster of Excellence 'Religion and Politics', University of Münster
    Research Assistent to Dr. Eylem Kanol, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), in the research projects: 'Jihadi radicalization in Europe from a comparative perspective' and 'Political protest and radicalization (Protest Monitoring)'.
    Research Assistant to Dr. Ruth Ditlmann, WZB, in the research project: 'Structural and interpersonal factors facilitating the satisfaction of group members' needs in intergroup contact interactions'.
    Internship in the parliamentary office of Burkhard Lischka, MdB
    Research Assistant to Dr. Ruth Ditlmann, at the WZB, in the research project: 'When do elected officials help immigrants become citizens?'
  • Teaching