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The preceding examples serve to illustrate some of the range of circumstances in which rhetorical situations can be found. But, really, rhetorical situations occur whenever one person attempts to communicate with another person. We could do the same activity with a painting, a work of fiction, a political debate, a film, a Facebook status update, a squabble between lovers, a personal journal entry, or any other act of communication. Invariably, all situations involving communication involve at least one of each of the following:

  1. a text in a particular medium, made with certain tools, and deciphered with certain tools;

  2. an author with a specific background;

  3. an audience with an equally specific background;

  4. purposes of both author and audience; and

  5. a setting in a particular time and place involving a certain community and conversation.

Understanding the factors that shape rhetorical situations make authors and audiences more aware of what goes into different acts of communication. Overall, understanding these factors helps people better understand the differing perspectives of others.