Brad Evans – Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman

In a recent study published in the Times Higher Education supplement, the world-renowned sociologist Zygmunt Bauman was charged with repetitive counts of “self-plagiarism”. As Peter Walsh and David Lehmann of Cambridge University claimed to have discovered, following an alleged meticulous reading of some 29 of Bauman’s works, “substantial quantities of material that appear to have been copied near-verbatim and without acknowledgement from at least one of the other books sampled. Several books contain very substantial quantities of text – running into several thousands of words, and in the worst case almost twenty thousand – that have been reused from earlier Bauman books without acknowledgement”. This recycling of prose, they argue, constitutes a monstrous “deception” on the part of the author, undermining one of the fundamental pillars of credible scholarship – the ability to cite with authenticating safeguards.

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