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Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank Paperback – April 1, 2004


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Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank + All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents (Hardcover)) + Dignity for All: How to Create a World Without Rankism
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; 1ST edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865714878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865714878
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fuller, former president of Oberlin College, believes there is an insidious force in America that has heretofore gone unrecognized. This "disorder without a name," which he terms "rankism," is discrimination beyond race, gender or educational background. While Fuller observed rankism in action both at Oberlin and as a physics professor at Columbia University, he was only able to fully identify it when he was no longer affiliated with a university. "Lacking the protection of title and status in the years after Oberlin, I experienced what it's like to be taken for a nobody." Fuller goes on to describe the various forms of rankism: scientists taking credit for the work of assistants, nursing home staff treating elderly patients poorly, priests sexually abusing churchgoers, etc. Rankism is an assault on personal dignity and should not be tolerated, says Fuller. According to the author, the condition exists because "rank is linked to power and power protects those who hold it" and "high rank inhibits protests and shields perpetrators." Fuller provides numerous examples, from family dynamics to corporate settings. Although some may argue rankism is just another form of racism, Fuller makes a persuasive case for recognizing this behavior as an abuse of power that transcends race-or gender. But the book falls short of providing enough concrete steps on how to fight this abuse, including only two brief chapters.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert W. Fuller earned his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University and taught at Columbia, where he co-authored Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics. After serving as president of Oberlin College, he became a "citizen diplomat," working toward improving international relations during the Cold War. During the 1990s, he served as board chair of the non-profit global corporation Internews and promoted democracy via free and independent media. When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the USSR, Fuller reflected on his career and realized that he had been, at different times in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns into "Nobodyland" led him to identify rankism--abuse of the power inherent in rank--and ultimately to write Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. Three years later, he published a sequel that focuses on building a "dignitarian society" titled All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity. With co-author Pamela Gerloff, he has also published Dignity for All: How to Create a World Without Rankism. His most recent books are Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship?, From Genome to Wenome: The Key to Universal Dignity, and The Rowan Tree: A Novel.

More About the Author

ROBERT W. FULLER earned his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University and taught at Columbia, where he co-authored MATHEMATICS OF CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM PHYSICS. After serving as president of Oberlin College, he became a "citizen diplomat," working toward improving international relations during the Cold War. During the 1990s, he served as board chair of the non-profit global corporation Internews and promoted democracy via free and independent media. When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the USSR, Fuller reflected on his career and realized that he had been, at different times in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns into "Nobodyland" led him to identify rankism--abuse of the power inherent in rank--and ultimately to write SOMEBODIES AND NOBODIES: OVERCOMING THE ABUSE OF RANK. Three years later, he published a sequel that focuses on building a "dignitarian society" titled ALL RISE: SOMEBODIES, NOBODIES, AND THE POLITICS OF DIGNITY. With co-author Pamela Gerloff, he has also published DIGNITY FOR ALL: HOW TO CREATE A WORLD WITHOUT RANKISM. His most recent books are RELIGION AND SCIENCE: A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP?, GENOMES, MENOMES, WENOMES: NEUROSCIENCE AND HUMAN DIGNITY, and THE ROWAN TREE: A NOVEL.

Customer Reviews

Read the book, laugh and weep!
thomas scheff
I really think it would help *most* people to read this book, whether they are on the side of the "somebody" or the "nobody" in any given situation.
BusyMom
Throughout this book Fuller shows that he aims to protect others' dignity as he would his own.
ian stonington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Linne Gravestock on May 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the book that I'm giving my friends for Christmas. I can't recommend it highly enough! It has sharpened my vision when I look at the everyday life around me, and how I cope with my family's attempts at manipulation and how I evaluate what I read in history, or in the newspaper or what I see on TV.
Even after all the work that we might have done in changing our attitudes about racism, sexism and any other ism we've known about, there's still been a lurking discomfort that we might not have been able to put our fingers on. This is what Robert Fuller calls "rankism."
Once you read this book, you'll see how rankism infects every aspect of our lives.
The signals can be very subtle, as in the old hooks that snare us when we turn into children in the presence of our parents. But now this author has articulated what we might not have been able to and given us ways to cope with things that we may have had only a felt sense about.
Until a few weeks ago, I enjoyed watching "The West Wing" on TV. The writing is so smart, so snappy, the actors were who I wish were running the country. Then last night C. J. Craig condescended to a new employee, telling him how little she thought of him as he was about 17 steps below her in rank. I felt a little stab of pain, as some of the pleasure was removed from the one show I looked forward to seeing.
Another interesting take on how rankism affects us all concerns the way certain U.S. Indian tribes are flipping the status they've had to endure for several centuries. With the advent of casinos and money, tribes are now standing up and saying, "We're still here. We count. We have clout. You can't ignore us or roll over us anymore.
Read more ›
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By ian stonington on May 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I bought Somebodies and Nobodies in addition to Collins' Good to Great and am deeply grateful that i found both these books at the same time. Collins showed how "great" companies eliminate rankism from the work environment, but Fuller's book gives even more context and breadth to this issue.
This book clearly and powerfully puts into words an underlying issue that takes great courage to expose--that discrimination based on rank is no more justified than descrimination based on race or gender.
Throughout this book Fuller shows that he aims to protect others' dignity as he would his own.
Many thanks to both these authors for their contributions to my personal and professional life!
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Andrew W. Johns VINE VOICE on April 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
The underlying premise of this book, that all people deserve to be treated with equal dignity, is an old concept, often embodied in the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you'd have done unto yourself"). However, the primary point here seems to be that creating a new terminology will enable a more productive discussion of the abuses of rank that rob people of their dignity. Whether such a discussion would inevitably lead to the societal changes suggest here is unclear, but the goals are certainly admirable.

However noble the author's intentions, this book is a bit of a chore to read. The arguments quickly become repetitive, and the text is quite dry. I wasn't full drawn into the book, and frequently found my attention wandering. The most interesting portions of the book are the anecdotes, which serve to illustrate the author's points quite clearly. Aside from these brief highlights, much of the rest of the book is heavy and cumbersome, required a great deal of focus to read.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Brown on May 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is interesting to see how overlooked this subject has been. We all have been on one side or the other of this issue, what is amazing is that the media and general public continue the "somebody" worship so rabidly. When we do that we only encourage the continuation of there being nobodies. Dignity should not be given out based on your income, addresss orany other temporary situation. It really is that simple. All you have to do is to look to 3rd world countries who are used as pawns by every other "somebody" nation. The US is not the only one guilty of this,but we get the lion's share of blame.
The topic of rankism in education is touched upon in Awakening Brilliance, but though a great premise, it has a bit too much Pollyanna in it to be as effective as Fuller's book. This book should be on every coffee table, no matter how expensive or simple, around the world.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Like a needle in a hay stack; that is how I always felt among people in the world; yes, I have been a victim of rankism and I have been very aware of it, but the social consensus is so strong that it is very hard to find somebody that will admit this is going on. Everyone seems to believe that rankism is a normal part of life. I see friends suffering because of it, and yet, they swallow the angst and sadness and go on about their lives making themselves believe that it is somehow their fault whatever is happening. Maybe someday they will get to be an authority and make someone else suffer right? PLEASE EVERYONE, READ THIS BOOK!!
Fuller did a great job in bringing an awareness of rankism, though I felt he did not let himself go completely in his writing. Though he argues that rank itself is not the problem, and that the abuse of rank is the culprit; I believe rank itself causes people to automatically abuse it--rankism. Yes, I agree that rank is important in a society but most people in our society have an ingrained belief that to have high rank automatically equals to have authority over someone, in that authority means that whoever is under you is obligated to do whatever you want. Buy this book,read it, and have your whole family, friends, and rankists in your life read it too.
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