Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads / Edition 1

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Overview


While fads such as hula hoops or streaking are usually dismissed as silly enthusiasms, trends in institutions such as education, business, medicine, science, and criminal justice are often taken seriously, even though their popularity and usefulness is sometimes short-lived. Institutional fads such as open classrooms, quality circles, and multiple personality disorder are constantly making the rounds, promising astonishing new developments—novel ways of teaching reading or arithmetic, better methods of managing businesses, or improved treatments for disease. Some of these trends prove to be lasting innovations, but others—after absorbing extraordinary amounts of time and money—are abandoned and forgotten, soon to be replaced by other new schemes. In this pithy, intriguing, and often humorous book, Joel Best—author of the acclaimed Damned Lies and Statistics—explores the range of institutional fads, analyzes the features of our culture that foster them, and identifies the major stages of the fad cycle—emerging, surging, and purging. Deconstructing the ways that this system plays into our notions of reinvention, progress, and perfectibility, Flavors of the Month examines the causes and consequences of fads and suggests ways of fad-proofing our institutions.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Readers may be charmed by Best's (sociology & criminal justice, Univ. of Delaware; Damned Lies and Statistics) penchant for catchy titles; he has such chapters as "The Illusion of Diffusion" as well as "Emerging," "Surging," and "Purging." But while he provides an engaging read, Best is also a thoughtful academician whose purpose is quite serious. While short-lived fads like hula hoops and fashion preferences come and go, leaving people not much the worse for having embraced them, Best draws our attention to institutional fads, endorsed by serious professionals in government, medicine, education, and business. Seemingly full of promise, these innovations (e.g., "open classrooms," "multiple personality syndrome") are widely adopted only to fall far short of expectations; they may even cause considerable damage. Best does a fine job of delineating the life cycle of institutional fads, observing why we are susceptible to them and how we can strike a balance that will encourage innovation but make us less vulnerable to falling for the latest trends and management styles. This book will inevitably be compared to Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, but in its thrust and seriousness of intent it more than holds its own. Recommended for all libraries.-Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520246263
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 4/10/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author


Joel Best is Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. Among his many books are More Damned Lies and Statistics: How Numbers Confuse Public Issues (2004), Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (2001), and Random Violence: How We Talk about New Crimes and New Victims (1999), all from UC Press.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

1. The Illusion of Diffusion
2. Why We Embrace Novelties: Conditions That Foster Institutional Fads
3. The Fad Cycle: Emerging
4. The Fad Cycle: Surging
5. The Fad Cycle: Purging
6. Fad Dynamics
7. Becoming Fad-Proof

Notes
References
Index

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