Why They Believe: A Case Study in Contemporary Polygamy


Why They Believe:

A Case Study in Contemporary Polygamy

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D.

“Why do they do it?” is a question often asked about people who choose to live a polygamous lifestyle. This book aims to answer that very question. Driven by the theories of Kenneth Burke, Janja Lalich, George Cheney, Max Weber, and others, this six-year study explores organizational identification and unobtrusive control and ...

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Why They Believe: A Case Study in Contemporary Polygamy

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Why They Believe:

A Case Study in Contemporary Polygamy

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D.

“Why do they do it?” is a question often asked about people who choose to live a polygamous lifestyle. This book aims to answer that very question. Driven by the theories of Kenneth Burke, Janja Lalich, George Cheney, Max Weber, and others, this six-year study explores organizational identification and unobtrusive control and compliance as it intersects with rhetoric, organizations, and religion.

To explore the overarching question of why people choose to live this lifestyle, 14 current and 14 former polygamists volunteered to participate in in-depth interviews. Current members affirm their freedom of choice and say they would never live any other way. Former members state they were victims of brainwashing and organizational control. Both sides are represented equally, and both perspectives are given full treatment. In addition to in-depth interviews, written organizational documents were collected and analyzed using Extended Metaphor Analysis, Aristotelian Analysis, and Burkean Identification Strategies.

Why They Believe investigates the question of “why they do it” in a depth never before explored. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the reasons polygamists choose to live this alternative lifestyle.

A six-year study in cooperation with the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the University of Utah.

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is a columnist at LA Family Magazine and Las Vegas Family Magazine, a relationship expert at Cupid’s Pulse.com, and a faculty associate at Arizona State University.

Visit amyosmondcook.com for more information

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781937458027
  • Publisher: Sourced Media Books
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Osmond Cook received her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Utah and currently teaches at Arizona State University. They have all traveled the heartbreaking road of divorce and have all found hope through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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Read an Excerpt


Schie (2000) argue that multiple group memberships exist within an organization, that is, “one may simultaneously be a member of the organization as a whole, of a department within the organization, and of a within-department work-group, and that all these memberships offer potential foci of identification” (p. 139). They found that work-group identification is stronger than OI and is more predictive of organizational attitudes and behaviors. They state that our understanding of organizational attitudes and behaviors has much to gain by “an open eye for the multiple foci of identification that are associated with organizational membership” (p. 137). Similarly, in the interviews I have conducted, I have found that the rhetoric from different organizational dimensions sometimes compete with one another. Numerous studies have identified differences between group (defined here as any lower-level group membership within an organization; see Bartels, 2007) and organizational identification (Richter et al., 2006; van Knippenberg and van Schie, 2000), but this study’s contribution to organizational identification literature is the systematic analysis of the rhetoric between identification in groups to find out how they may differ from one another, which types of rhetoric are most influential in inducing identification, and how organizational members appropriate this rhetoric as a resource for identification and disidentification (including adapting, subverting, etc.; compare Hirschman’s 1972 categories of exit, voice, and loyalty). Studies such as Foreman and Whetten (2002); Larson and Pepper (2003); and Bartels et al. (2007) have emphasized the importance of “distinguishing between several organizational levels with which employees might identify themselves” (p. 174). This study, with its focus of organizational members’ appropriation of rhetorical discourses in different organizational dimensions (i.e., family, church, and business groups that are identifiable as separate groups but with obviously overlapping membership), can help answer that question.

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Table of Contents

1 Why They Believe: Organizational Identification in Polygamy 1

Is the Kingston Organization Really an “Organization”? 2

How Have Organizations with a Religious Component Been Studied? 4

Advantages to Studying the Kingston Organization from an Org. Comm. Perspective 6

Conclusion 8

2 The Kingstons 11

Creation of the Organization 11

Three Ideological Platforms 16

Official and Unofficial Texts 22

Conclusion 29

3 Theoretical Perspectives and Positions 31

Key Term #1: Rhetoric 32

Key Term #2: Organization 38

Key Term #3: Religion 46

Identification: Organization + Rhetoric 61

Unobtrusive Control and Compliance 94

Conclusion 107

4 Methodology 109

Methodological Framework 109

Methods 116

Conclusion 139

5 “Kingdom of God”: The Organization and Order 141

Extended Metaphor Analysis 141

The Triple Identity of the Kingston Organization 143

The Interdependent Dimensions 149

Conclusion 155

6 Aristotelian Analysis 157

Plato’s Tripartite and Aristotle’s Bipartite Souls 157

Kinds, Premises, and Appeals of Rhetoric 161

Conclusion 193

7 Burkean Identification Strategies: Bounded Choice 195

Transcendental Belief System, Mythic Image, and Cognitive Identification 196

Consubstantiality, Systems of Influence, and Conative Identification 199

Behavioral Identification, Perfection, and Systems of Authority 213

Affective Identification, Mystery, and Charismatic Authority 222

Bounded Choice: Loyalty in Thoughts, Words, and Actions 228

Conclusion 238

8 Conclusions 239

Theoretical Conclusions 240

Order Conclusions 250

Limitations and Applicability of the Study 261

Notes 265

Appendix A: To My Friends in the Safety Net Committee 279

Appendix B: Organizational Identification Tables 287

Appendix C: Definitions of Organizational Identification 295

References 299

Index 319

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