Eliciting Hierarchy-Enhancing Legitimizing Myths (E-HELM) – How do we learn about the stories that groups tell to justify their actions?


  1. Last, D.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Royal Military Coll of Canada, Kingston Ont (CAN) Center for Security, Armed Forces and Society
Hierarchy-enhancing legitimizing myths are stories told to justify domination, including in-group glorification (Canada is best) and out-group denigration (Canadians are better than Americans). This project explored alternative methods to elicit such myths, tested a tool to select the most appropriate method for particular circumstances, and prepared for a research ethics submission for subsequent work. For an information-saturated environment with ready access to mass media, Susemihl describes methods of eliciting myths communicated through literature, mass media, Internet and blogs. Textual analysis, content analysis, interpretive analysis, semiotics, psychoanalysis and discourse analysis are illustrated for children’s literature, radio, television, Internet and blogs. Appropriate to a saturated or less dense communications environment, Bogdanic describes techniques including key informant narrative interviewing, purposive sampling, the application of Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT), and Q methodology. SCT focuses on shared fantasies that involve the audience in a drama. Q methodology has the advantage of drawing data from very small samples. Bogdanic also describes framing and stereotyping, which serve similar functions to myths. When access is difficult and information is scarce, anthropological techniques can still be used. Thomson describes gaining permission to enter, dealing with surveillance, recruiting respondents, and forms of interference by authorities. Finan

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Legitimizing myths
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2011-144 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Feb 2013
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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