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Learn to Write Badly: How to Succeed in the Social Sciences New Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michael Billig makes important and novel arguments about the state of writing – and therefore the state of thinking – in the social sciences. This book presents detailed critiques of writings by a wide range of social scientists. Billig uses vivid examples to demonstrate the conditions in which bad writing is nurtured and to show its wider significance for academia and beyond. This is a highly entertaining read which had me laughing out loud at times."
Christine Griffin, Professor of Social Psychology, University of Bath

"A wonderful look at the academic world and the kind of writing it encourages. I especially enjoyed the chapters on mass publication, sociology, and experimental social psychology."
Tom Scheff, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

"If you are put off by the highly specialized, closed and boring technical prose that increasingly characterizes a good deal of contemporary social science, then Michael Billig shares your annoyance! A wise, informed and well-written account, showing just why so many social scientists write badly."
John Van Maanen, Erwin H. Schell Professor of Organization Studies, MIT Sloan School of Management

"Once again, Michael Billig has succeeded in challenging one of the characteristics of scholars’ writing in the social sciences which is usually taken for granted: the use of too much abstract jargon which mystifies and obfuscates the interpretation, reflection and explanation of our findings. In his brilliant, typically humorous but also cynical and accurate analysis of scholars’ narcissism, the author points to alternative ways of combining complex research with fundamental and necessary scholarly standards – while simultaneously making our work accessible to a broader public, in the spirit of true critical science."
Ruth Wodak, Distinguished Professor and Chair in Discourse Studies, Lancaster University

"Michael Billig is writing from the inside as a professor of social sciences at Loughborough University: he knows all the tricks and poses, and examines them with a mix of cool detachment, warm humour and suitably dense footnoting."
Gideon Haigh, 'Books of the Year', Spectator (Australia)

"[A] splendid book, which I’m going to make compulsory reading for anyone who crosses my path."
Martin Parker, Organization

"[Billig's] argument will interest most academics, not merely those in the social sciences … any self-reflective academic or writer will benefit from reading his accomplished study."
Luke Brunning, The Cambridge Humanities Review

"A highly respected researcher, Billig is well positioned to offer his critique … The book's apt, somewhat tongue-in-cheek illustrations cleverly prove Billig's claims … Essential. Graduate students, researchers, faculty."
C. E. O'Neill, Choice

"… a thought-provoking manifesto for good writing."
Helen Jones, Sociology

'You will be drawn into the book by amusement and curiosity despite the somewhat dry topic.' Eva Dietrich, University of Potsdam

Book Description

A humorous, clearly written scholarly analysis of what is going wrong with the way that social scientists write.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cambridge University Press; New edition (July 31, 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1107676983
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1107676985
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.7 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.61 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 27 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
27 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

Italianist
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterically funny and true
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 27, 2019
Charles R.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful text...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 6, 2018
Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on February 12, 2016
RB
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 2, 2018
Willow Arune
1.0 out of 5 stars A delightful attack on standard academic writing. Obfiscating as ...
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 31, 2015