Mapping Cultural Frame Shifting in Interaction Design with Blending Theory

Thomas Markussen, Peter Gall Krogh

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In this paper, we introduce Gilles Fauconnier & Mark Turner's blending theory as a new conceptual framework for explaining ‘cultural frame shifting' in interaction design. Cultural frame shifting is when people, through their explorative use of technology, are required imaginatively to reorganize their cultural background knowledge and expectations. In current HCI research it has occasionally been pointed out that a proper understanding of this phenomenon hinges on addressing the relationship between embodied interaction and cultural meaning construction as part of a larger interactive system. However, the given treatments of this relationship are mostly unbalanced. Thus, there is a research bias towards either leaving the question of meaning construction aside, or trying to answer it exclusively in terms of embodiment - often grounded in phenomenology. As a tool of analysis and interpretation we apply the network model of mental spaces from Fauconnier & Turner's blending theory onto video material and interviews from initial qualitative use studies of a design case. In so doing we explore and argue for how meaning formation and embodied cognition coalesce in cultural frame shifting and provide a tool for designers to work with cultural aspects as a constitutive factor of user experience in interaction design.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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