Legend and Legacy of Elvis Case Study

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Interpretation of Elvis's Behavior and What Shapes and Explains His Life Story

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It would be disingenuous to try to explain Elvis's behaviors without understanding their temporal and geographic contexts. According to Bertrand (2007), "In a nation that valued upward mobility and cultural progression, Elvis remained a proletarian provincial, an exotic and repulsive Other. A hip-swiveling 'Hillbilly Cat' turned B-movie star turned Las Vegas spectacle, he never convinced leading arbiters that he was anything but an uncouth and untalented truck driver. He was, in a word, at least to those who helped guide American public tastes and opinion, unfashionable" (p. 62). Calling Elvis "unfashionable," though, is like saying a drowning man has moist skin, and he was after all an entertainer. Today, Americans expect their entertainers to be eccentric and colorful, but Elvis hit the stage during a period in American history when there was a communist on every street corner and American textbooks referred to civil rights as "trouble ahead." From a promotional perspective, Elvis's behaviors were consistently self-promoting throughout his early career and his behaviors can be understood in that context. For instance, Cobb (2012) notes that many biographers cite "[Elvis's] upbringing in the more racially fluid Pentecostal religious tradition as the key factor in his apparent lack of racial or religious bigotry, going even further to insist that Elvis sensed an affinity with society's other outcasts that many working class Southerners of his time strenuously denied" (p. 56). Less frequently discussed, though, is how military service affected Elvis and he appears to have suffered the same fate as many returning GIs who experienced substance abuse problems, divorce, and trouble at work. Like many other GIs as well, Elvis failed to survive his drug and alcohol excursions long enough to grow all the way up and achieve his true potential.

Discuss those aspects of the person's behavior that can be labeled normal or abnormal by society

TOPIC: Case Study on Legend and Legacy of Elvis Assignment

By definition, something that is "normal" does "not deviate from a norm, rule, or principle," and it "conforms to a type, standard, or regular pattern"; normal people are "characterized by average intelligence or development" and are "free from mental disorder" (e.g,, sane) (Normal definition, 2012, para. 1). In conventional usage, an example of normal would be, "Normal people do not react that way" (Normal definition, para. 2). Because everyone is unique, everyone will also likely engage in behaviors that are "abnormal" from time to time, but those aspects of people's behaviors that can be regarded as being normal or abnormal include discernible communicative and social impairments, and the more of these impairments that are present, the more likely that the behaviors are abnormal (Hollander, 2003). As noted above, by associating himself with society's "outcasts," Elvis made himself "abnormal" from the outset, but for some members of American society, though, Elvis was absolutely "normal."

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Case Study Approach for Studying Human Behavior

As opposed to experimental design or observation, the case study approach is a humanistic technique that is especially suitable for studying human behavior. For instance, a major strength of the case study approach is its ability to investigate a topic of interest in depth and with greater attention to details that might be of interest to the researcher (Leedy, 1997). Likewise, Neuman (2003) emphasizes that, "In case study research, researchers examine, in-depth, many features of a few cases over a duration of time. In a case study, a researcher may intensively investigate one or two cases or compare a limited set of cases, focusing on several factors" (p. 33). Furthermore, the case study approach is useful for studying human behavior because it take into account the entire constellation of the factors which comprise the human condition thereby "raising questions about the boundaries and defining characteristics of a case. Such questions help in the generation of new thinking and theory" (Neuman, 2003, p. 33).

Lessons Learned about Psychology as a Tool for Understanding Individuals

Not only are people different over time, they are different -- sometimes dramatically so -- from moment to moment. Understanding how and why people react to workplace conditions is therefore a challenging enterprise, but psychological theories and concepts can help practitioners understanding these behaviors. Nevertheless, this understanding is dynamic and is never truly complete because human needs are never completely satisfied and it is possible to regress to lower order needs in place of higher order needs depending on individual circumstances. .

How Psychology Can Provide an Essential Set of Skills to Apply in the Workplace

People want and need to know that their needs in the workplace are recognized and understood by management. Stage developmental theorists such as Maslow and Erikson suggest that lower-order needs must be satisfied before moving on to other higher-order needs, but also note that people can move back and forth between these hierarchies of needs from time to time and over time. Because people are never truly satisfied, psychology provides a useful framework in which to better understand what the "needs de jure" might be and how these needs can be satisfied through informed and enlightened human resource practices.

Summary and Conclusion

The adage that, "You can't understand others unless you understand yourself" suggests that an empathic analysis of others is an essential element in developing insightful analytical human resource management skills. Practitioners that subscribe to theory x or theory y exclusively run the risk of recognizing what is driving employee morale up or down, and what factors are most salient with respect to unplanned turnover and absenteeism. Employee satisfaction is not a mysterious concept that can only be expressed in quantifiable ways on bar charts, people want money and want to know how to make more of it. Given half a chance, people will knock themselves out in order to make as much money as possible, and some will take shortcuts that will cause trouble. In sum, studying psychology can help professionals understand others by providing a lens and framework for understanding individual human behavior. In the case of Elvis Presley, there is a certain "there but for the grace of God go I" quality to his life that resonates with anyone who has wondered what it is like to be enormously talented as well as rich and famous.


Bertrand, M.T. (2007, Fall). Elvis Presley and the politics of popular memory. Southern Cultures, 13(3), 62-64.

Biederman, D.E., Pierson, E.P., Silfen, M.E., Glasser, J.A., Berry, R.C. & Sobel, L.S. (1996).

Law and business of the entertainment industries. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Chadwick, V. (1997). In search of Elvis: Music, race, art, religion. Boulder, CO: Westview


Cherry, K. (2012). Erikson's psychosocial stages of development. About.com. Retrieved:


Cobb, J.C. (2012, August). Elvis Presley, reluctant rebel: His life and our times. The Journal of Southern History, 78(3), 770-771.

Cooper, B.L. (1998, Summer). Images of Elvis Presley in American culture, 1977-1997: The mystery terrain. Journal of American Culture, 21(2), 92-93.

Hollander, E. (2003). Autism spectrum disorders. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Leedy, P.D. (1997). Practical research: Planning and design (6th ed). Upper Saddle River,

NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Neuman, W.L. (2003). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches, 5th ed. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Normal definition. (2012). Merriam-Webster. Available: http://www.merriam-webster.


Silverman, M.J. (2006). Forty years of case studies: a history of clinical case studies… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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