Molly Ginn

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Valde, Kathleen S.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication




Relational dialectics 2.0 (Baxter, 2011) argues that individuals use cultural discourses to make sense of what is being said in relational interactions. However, relational dialectics does not explain how people learn these cultural discourses. This thesis uses relational dialectics 2.0 and social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) to focus on five cultural discourses that are present in four musicals in order to better understand how people learn and apply what they learn about cultural discourses to their daily interactions. The five cultural discourses examined are historical representation, identity, race, sexuality, and social class, and the four musicals are Hamilton, Hairspray, Les Miserables, and Rent. Social learning theory was used to develop five research questions. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with participants (N=12) who had seen Hamilton and at least one of the other three musicals. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis, and the results identify and explain the themes related to what people learn about cultural discourses from viewing live performances of musicals and how they apply that learning to their interactions. The last chapter provides a discussion of the results including the implications they have for relational communication.


Advisors: Kathleen S. Valde.||Committee members: Ferald J. Bryan; Mary Lynn M. Henningsen.||Includes bibliographical references.


73 pages




Northern Illinois University

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