Cognitive Foundations of Society: The Concept of Schemata in Cell, Gene, and Tissue Therapies

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Interpreting how people accord meaning to life situations is an old challenge in sociology. Emphasis has been given to values shared within social groups; other sociologists have stressed the discursive or communicative dimensions of society. This paper seeks an alternative interpretation by combining sociological inquiry and insights from cognitive linguistics. It explores the concept of schema, which points to the unconscious identification of patterns in human experiences, enabling people to assimilate concepts such as FORCE, CONTAINMENT, and others. This paper focuses on discourses and views around advanced therapies: medicinal products based on genes, cells, or tissues. These therapies are frequently understood via two alternative schemata. The CURE schema foregrounds therapies’ long-term potential to revert disease and tends to underpin metaphoric reasoning; the IMPAIRMENT schema highlights specific limitations brought about by disease, being frequently associated with metonymic reasoning. Schemata underpin broader initiatives and decisions, including those adopted by regulatory and government agencies. As they constitute basic and socialized understandings, their study enables the identification of the cognitive and linguistic foundations of society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Linguistics
Early online date20 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) (2023). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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