Burke’s Pentad (Dramatism). Kenneth Burke developed a critical technique called dramatism1. The foundation of dramatism is the concept of motive: the. Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic approach in speech criticism “Burke’s perspective on perspectives: Grounding dramatism in the representative. Kenneth Burke’s Dramatism. Life is drama; playing roles in relation to other people. Interest in the interaction of language and action. Symbolic.

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This page was last edited on 18 Decemberat Because symbols were given a central place in motivation, the dramaism moves of the symbolic interactionists had opened the opportunity to study the clustering of rhetoric in forms, and the practical accomplishment of rhetoric as an invoking of these forms to influence human action.

University of California Press. The theory is necessary because it is logically consistent and testable as I have shown. Individuals are “both joined and separated”.

Identification is the basic function of sociality, using both positive and negative associations. Agency Agency is the technique or method by which ddamatism agent achieve their goals.

Symbolic Motivation

We feel guilt as a result of our place in the hierarchy. In other words, I may feel that the fraternity guy posted those nude pictures of his girlfriend on the internet out of jealousy while someone else may feel he did it out of kindness.

A dance in a church, for example is not appropriate, though a byrke is. Please help and share: However, future theorists, specifically Bernard Brock [60] and Herb Simons[61] went on to argue dramatism as metaphorical theory claiming that Burke’s idea that all the world’s a stage is mere a tool of symbolic interaction that signals life as a drama.

Burke maintained that analyzing the ratios of bruke speaker’s presentation would expose the resources of ambiguity people might exploit to interpret complex problems. Yet another aspect to look at when analyzing theories is corrigibility. Language expert Kenneth Burke identified a method of analysing the semantic dimensions of language through a five-part ‘dramatism pentad’ that describes our living stories.


The agency is tools used in performing the act. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Burke’s Five Elements of Dramatism

They employ dramatism to show how these skills are critical in raising finance. Agent The agent is the person or group of people who perform in the act. When engaged in a dramatistic study, he notes, “the basic unit of action would be defined as ‘the human body in conscious or purposive motion'”, which is an agent acting in a situation.

Of note, the reasoning for Burke to emphasize his theory as literal relates to the reasons to why others claim it to be metaphorical: Other theorists argue that Dramatism lacks utility because it leaves out topics of gender and culture.

The order is the status quo, where everything is right with the world. For example, by analyzing public address, scholars examine why a speaker selects a certain strategy to identify with audience.

Burke’s Five Elements of Dramatism

As dramatksm in A Note on Burke on “Motive”, the author recognized the importance of “motive” in Burke’s work. They are the characters in the story, the people who enact the meaning.

The agent is who or what did the act. Landmark essays on Kenneth Burke. A Grammar of Motives. Finally comes transcendence which is new order, the now status quo. Transcending the Sub-Stance of Dramatism.

Burke recognizes that identification rests on both unity and division, since no one’s substance can completely overlap with others.

Burke said that we choose words because of their dramatic potential, and that we each have preference for particular parts of the pentad.

For example, by examining the decision making criteria of Business Angels, Baron and Marksman identified four social skills which contribute to entrepreneurial success: The structure of social hierarchy considered in terms of the communication of superiority, inferiority and equality.


To Bormann, it is within this symbolic realm that we construct fantasy themes to give our action meaning. Motives are the particular way people understand events and the recommendations for response inherent to the discourse that it presents for its audience.

Burke’s Pentad: Dramatism

Republicans and democrats do this all the time when political events occur. They view discourse as far more than just re-presenting materiality; they believe that the human power to use symbols changes action in fundamental ways.

Dwight Macdonald and Ernest Van Den Haag views that popular or “mass”- culture functions not as Scene, as one might ordinarily expect, but as Agency. In this case, the agency would be a computer and scanner.

Quarterly Journal of Speech, 38 2 Each and every one of us has different temperaments, talents, and convictions, which persuade us to understand things slightly differently. However, this author notes that Burke’s work wasn’t a critique and examination of this relationship through dramatism, but rather that the theory of dramatism does give space to make such analyses.

Toward a Feminist Dramatism”. Rhetoric Review kenmeth, 4 1 Shaping the Temporal Patterns of our Lives: State University of New York. The act is an important part of the meaning, thought it is not the whole meaning, even though it may sometimes be thought to be so. How we change what others think, feel, believe and do. Winterowd suggests writers should present ideas dramatistically,not relying on argument and demonstration alone but grounding their abstractions in the concreteness of what being called as representative anecdotes.