My research explores the relationship between values congruency and legitimacy. Put another way, I measure how closely people think they agree with the values of an organization--something called "values congruency." Then, I measure how legitimate these people think the organization and its actions are. Finally, I am able to show the relationship between values congruency and legitimacy. The following explains the two major research projects I'm working on.
I am exploring how key publics of the photography industry perceive the legitimacy of contemporary high school senior portraits. These portraits are not headshots taken for the school’s yearbook, but rather artistic photo shoots celebrating the lives of high school seniors and marking their transition to adulthood.
In the past, these photographic rites of passage tended toward conservative expressions and formal poses. Today, however, senior portraits, especially those of female clients, seem more in line with the spirit of America’s Top Model or with the cover shot of Glamour magazine.
No doubt, many factors are responsible for this shift toward the sexualizing of senior portraits including parents who push their daughters to strike provocative poses so that “personality” is expressed in the images. Not surprisingly, there are those who oppose transforming high school students into international supermodel look-a-likes. Some critics argue from a feminist perspective. Others appeal to the notion of modesty arising from a deontological ethic grounded in fundamentalist Christianity. Whether people are for or against racy senior portraits, the extent to which they grant or withhold legitimacy is likely tied to their personal values.
This research explores which values in particular are related to those who see these images are appropriate as well as those who find them inappropriate.
The evangelical church in America has undergone significant changes during the past few decades. These changes have redefined the role of both churches and ministers within the social context of American culture—an aspect of institutional legitimacy. Further, these changes have redefined how people perceive the appropriateness of the church’s message, music style, and marketing orientation—all elements of actional legitimacy, or the right of an organization to conduct certain actions in specific ways.
The purpose of this research is to explore the extent to which evangelicals grant legitimacy to the institution and actions of the modern church. Further, I am to explore the extent to which specific values correlate with these assessments of legitimacy.
The results of this research should yield richer insights into why segments of evangelicalism favor specific messages, particular music styles, and specific orientations toward marketing the church.