- Paperback: 209 pages
- Publisher: New Society Publishers; 1st edition (April 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0865714878
- ISBN-13: 978-0865714878
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#580,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #192 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Canadian
- #673 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Civics & Citizenship
- #774 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Specific Demographics > Minority Studies
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Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank Paperback – April 1, 2004
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"I've been disturbed, especially during the past several years, by my restaurant encounters. The servers invariably wear an ID: Barbara or James. I, as patron, am always addressed with the prefix "Mr." I've always made a point to ask "What's your last name?" I'm not out to make trouble, just curious. The server often mumbles, as though embarrassed, his or her surname.
"Consider this a metaphor for the theme of Robert Fuller's wonderful and tremendously important book on the "ism" that is far more encompassing than racism, sexism or ageism. Rankism must be our prime target from now on in. Viva Fuller!"
-- Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Working.
"Somebodies & Nobodies is a shrewd and compelling look at the crucial but usually unperceived role of rank in all our lives. How easily we put down those we see as subordinate in title or wealth or origin; how silently we cringe at another's assumption of superiority. I saw myself in some of the examples, and I shuddered. But it is not just a personal analysis. The abuse of rank-the denial of equal dignity to others-corrupts relations between nations, and between the governors and the governed in a democracy. Robert Fuller is a realist, not an advocate of political correctness. He makes us understand that equal dignity, whatever one's place in society or the world, is a key to peace and social order."
- Anthony Lewis, former columnist for The New York Times.
"Somebodies & Nobodies will precipitate a national conversation about a pervasive but, until now, unnamed social dysfunction-rankism. Watch for a dignitarian movement against rankism that, like the civil rights and wo4men's movements, will transform American life-in the board room, the school room, the bedroom, and, a lot sooner than we might think, at the ballot box."
- Jerry Greenfield, Co-Founder of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
"Bob Fuller's courageous study of rankism attacks the core 'ism' at the base of them all: how humans wield authority and status as weapons. It is impossible to read this book without a shock of recognition, a shriek of outrage-and a radical shift in worldview. I imagine (hope!) that many practicing rankists will receive it as an anonymous 'gift.' Then maybe they'll read it, and change."
- Denise Caruso, founder of the Hybrid Vigor Institute, former technology columnist for The New York Times.
"Somebody, nobody-in my time, I've been both. Most of us have. Robert Fuller breaks the taboo on speaking of rank as others have on race and gender. The message is simple; the message is vital: protect the dignity of others as you do your own."
- Tommie Smith, Gold Medallist in the 200 meters at the Mexico City Olympics who gave the Black Power salute, holder of eleven world records in track, currently track coach at Santa Monica Community College.
"Occasionally, an author comes along that makes us see the world around us in a totally new way. Robert W. Fuller takes us on a journey through the world of "Ranks." He explores how rank has been used throughout history to divide, separate and control people. Equally important, he tells us what we can do to overcome this outmoded and destructive social mechanism and establish social relationships based on the restoration and extension of the notion of dignity. This book is an eye opener that we can all learn and benefit from in our daily lives."
- Jeremy Rifkin, President of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C.; author of The Age of Access.
"A wonderful call to action against the spill-over of status. Wealth, job title and social positions are too often allowed to outweigh the respect to which each human being is entitled."
- Roger Fisher, Director, Harvard Negotiation Project, and author of Getting to Yes.
"Rankism has power over us primarily because it is invisible. This book makes it visible. And thus gives us the means to express our own innate legitimacy, instead of depending on the legitimacy granted to us from others."
- Art Kleiner, author of The Core Group and The Age of Heretics.
"Bullies and abusers seek power, control, domination and subjugation, and the pursuit of superior rank is their means to this end. When rankism is removed, deference no longer stifles dignity, fear gives way to mutual respect, and individuality and creativity flourish. Sombodies and Nobodies reveals the wisdom behind the saying that there's no such thing as an important person, only an important title."
- Tim Field, author of Bully in Sight and webmaster of Bully OnLine at www.bullyonline.org
"I recognize the origins of "Somebodies and Nobodies" in the experience Robert Fuller and I shared as students at Oberlin College during the conformist '50s. Inspired by Oberlin's historic role in multi-racial and co-education, our generation protested segregation and celebrated the translation of Simone de Beauvoir's pioneering work--"The Second Sex"--into English. Oberlin's faculty and trustees defied McCarthyite assaults on civil liberties. Robert Fuller extends Oberlin's dignitarian tradition by identifying the common cause of these and other abuses of power and giving it a name-rankism."
- Barbara Seaman, co-founder of National Women's Health Network, contributing editor at Ms., and author of Free and Female.
"Bob Fuller's ideas about rankism changed my personal behavior. I think they will change the world, in time. It is one of those 'click' realizations that you can't unclick-everything human looks different afterward, and you have to do something about it."
- Stewart Brand, Global Business Network; The Long Now Foundation; Founder of The Whole Earth Catalog.
"Somebodies and Nobodies deserves a place among American wisdom classics alongside Eric Hoffer's The True Believer. Robert Fuller approaches the fundamental problems of rank and human status-seeking from a new perspective, with new insights, and with wonderful originality. This book will promote liberating debate about social norms, organizational structures, and governance."
- Michael Murphy, Co-Founder of Esalen; author of Golf in the Kingdom.
- Michael Toms, Co-founder of New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time for Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy and True Work.
"Robert Fuller's is a clear, reasonable, unorthodox voice advocating a more equitable world. In this analysis, he describes why that will be hard to achieve, and why achieving it starts nearer to home than we might think."
- Nelson W. Polsby, Heller Professor of Political Science, University of California at Berkeley; author of Presidential Elections.
In the on-going attempts to overcome racism and sexism in North America today, we are overlooking another kind of discrimination that is no less damaging and equally unjustifiable. It is a form of injustice that everyone knows, but no one sees: discrimination based on rank. Low rank-signifying weakness, vulnerability, and the absence of power-marks you for abuse in much the same way that race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation have long done.
When discrimination is race-based, we call it racism; when it's gender-based, we call it sexism. By analogy, rank-based discrimination might be called "rankism." Somebodies and Nobodies explains our reluctance to confront rankism, and argues that abuse based on power differences is no more justified than abuse based on color or gender differences. It shows where analyses based on identity fall short and, using dozens of examples to illustrate the argument, traces many forms of injustice and unfairness to rankism.
Somebodies and Nobodies unmasks rankism as The Feminine Mystique unmasked sexism. It demythologizes the prevailing social consensus-the "Somebody Mystique"-to demonstrate the pervasiveness and corrosiveness of rankism in our personal lives and social institutions. The book introduces new language and concepts that illuminate the subtle, often dysfunctional workings of power in our social interactions. It presents rankism as the last hurdle on the long road from aristocracy to a true meritocracy, brings into focus a dignitarian revolution that is already taking shape, and offers a preview of post-rankist society.
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These ideas and the illuminating personal stories that he presents are worthy of about thirty pages. To fill out the book, he repeats himself, resulting in tedium for the reader. I lost count of the number of times that he reassured us that he does not oppose rank, merely the abuse of rank.
His analysis of oppression is not particularly deep, he tries too hard to force all problems into his paradigm, and his oversimplifications miss much of the structure that makes human suffering so prevalent and intractable.
In summary, nobody “needs” to buy this book. If you are interested in his ideas, first check out the web: breakingranks.net, dignitarians.org, for example.
Rank is inevitable in organizations as we differentiate by function and role. Rank is neutral. However, "rankism" raises its ugly head when rank, using the power linked to it, is abused.
We're often oblivious to the abuse of rank. It's the way things are. We're used to those in power being oppressive, or, maybe, we're in charge. In "Seeing Systems," author Barry Oshry describes the predictable experiences of a customer as one of being ignored and the "Bottoms" of the organization as vulnerable and disregarded. After Fuller left posts of college president and physics professor, THEN he felt its full effect.
In my mind, rankism hurts twice. It's a direct attack on the dignity of each person and it robs the organization of the gifts people offer while being discounted.
--Jack H. Bender, author of Disregarded: Transforming the School and Workplace through Deep Respect and Courage