Imagining Religion: The Unconscious Substructures of American Religious Understandings

Master's Thesis


Cultural sociology is centrally concerned with “how culture works.” While insights from the cognitive sciences have advanced understandings by illuminating the distinct operations of practical and discursive cognition, limited consideration has been given to the underlying semantic structures beneath these cognitive modes. This article develops an “image schematic” approach to interview data in order to reconstruct how 50 religious Americans unconsciously understand religion in their lives. Systematically focusing on implicit knowledge structures rather than discursive language structures, its findings reveal five schemas, which are internally coherent, widely shared, but variably relied upon as scaffolds for understanding. These findings highlight the importance of attending to both embodiment and social environment for understanding culture.


Attribute NameValues
Author Michael Rotolo
Contributor Omar Lizardo, Committee Member
Contributor Christian Smith, Research Director
Contributor Terence McDonnell, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2018-04-04

Submission Date 2018-04-05
Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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