Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Member

David Blakesley

Committee Member

Cynthia Haynes

Committee Member

Richard Pak

Committee Member

Kapil Chalil Madathil


This dissertation investigates rhetorical situatedness as a factor that culturally designates users’ motives in adopting a new technology. The application of Kenneth Burke’s dramatism extends the discussion about the situation where an interaction takes place to include acting and meaning-making in Non-Western settings as contextual and situated. This expansion is essential to reinforce the understanding of how cultural contexts impact users’ motives, specifically users from Non-Western settings, to adopt a technology. The traditional Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research stresses mechanical and technical aspects between a user (agent) and a technology device (agency) in order to reduce user errors. This approach isolates the rhetorical situation of interaction in a computer interface, thus eliding the cultural situatedness by regarding the situation as something fixed, such as in a laboratory. Adding a cultural context provides a fuller picture of this interaction.

Using a civic records online system called e-Lampid, which is administered by Surabaya City Government in Indonesia as a case study, I discover five elements of situatedness that contribute significantly to weave acting and meaning-making into a culturally informed interaction. User motives are shaped by internal and external situations that are collective, local, and both onsite and off. Dramatism is a tool for analysis and production that prioritizes cultural awareness. Dramatistic User Experience (UX) design offers analytical, comprehensive, and systematic perspectives on the design process. Dramatistic UX integrates three different approaches: usability testing, rhetorical awareness of situations, and needs analysis. The synergy of dramatism, user experience, and design thinking provides a holistic approach to construct a rhetorically grounded and culturally contingent user experience design.



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