Somebodies and Nobodies

Overcoming the Abuse of Rank

This book provides a theory of "rankism" – abuse and discrimination based on the power vested in rank. The author introduces new language and tools that illuminate the workings of power in our social interactions, previewing a social revolution that restores dignity to all.

By: Robert W. Fuller

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What corporate corruption, sexual abuse by clergy, and schoolyard bullying all have in common

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.

About The Author(s)

Robert Fuller has had three distinct careers in as many decades. After attending Oberlin College and getting a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University, he taught physics at Columbia University in New York City.

While authoring a book on mathematical physics at the Battelle Seattle Research Center, he started a course for dropouts in a local high school and began writing about education. This led him back to academia and to the presidency of his alma mater, Oberlin College. His second career consisted of leading Oberlin through a series of educational reforms, many of which drew national attention.

After this, Fuller traveled extensively, coming to rest in California, where a third career took shape in the movement which came to be known during the Cold War as “citizen diplomacy.” This involves individuals or small groups taking personal initiative in establishing relationships with people in other countries to bridge the gaps in understanding that often breed hostility. As Fuller says, “International diplomacy is too important to be left exclusively to professionals. Private citizens must take responsibility for creating peace and justice themselves.” He thinks of this work as “a better game than war,” and it has taken him to Russia, China, India, South Africa, the Middle East, South America, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Bosnia.

Fuller long served as Board Chair of the nonprofit global corporation Internews, which promotes democracy and international understanding via free and independent media. In 1999 Internews helped launch WorldLink TV, the first international public affairs channel for Americans.

A contributor in a range of disciplines to magazines including Harvard Magazine, The Utne ReaderWhole Earth Review, and the Peter Drucker Foundation’s Leader to Leader, Fuller is also co-author of the classic text Mathematics for Classical and Quantum Physics. Beginning in 1997, the Pacific News Service has syndicated several op-eds by him on “rankism” — the central notion in Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank.

Robert Fuller has four children and lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, Claire Sheridan.

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Book Specifications

ISBN: 9780865714878

Page Count: 232

Dimensions: 6 × 9 × 0.6 in

Publication Date: April 01, 2004

Audiobook Narrator: Richard Newman

Audiobook Length: 5:42:00

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