Date of Award

Fall 2007

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Michele Dillon


Christian Science has been largely ignored in sociological inquiries of modern religious institutions. This research project aims to uncover how Christian Science practitioners understand their world in terms of the origins of illness, the gender division of labor, and their role as healers within the Christian Science community and the world. I distributed questionnaires to practitioners in California and the New England region, analyzing the responses using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The practitioners in this sample (N = 33) are overwhelmingly white, middle-aged to older women with higher-than-average levels of educational attainment and income. Thematic analyses reveal that in their everyday lives these women engage in a discourse that attempts to transcend corporeal existence while they simultaneously try to meet the daily demands of work and family. One dilemma they face is the need to receive remuneration for their services despite the altruistic nature of their healing practice.