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Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the…

Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank

by Robert W. Fuller

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205689,969 (3.13)2
We call race-based discrimination racism; and gender-based discrimination sexism. In Somebodies and Nobodies, Fuller argues that rank-based discrimination, or 'rankism,' is a form of discrimination that we all accept. He explains our reluctance to confront rankism, and shows why our tendency to judge people based on their status often leads us astray. Using dozens of examples, Fuller shows how the many forms of injustice and unfairness we attribute to things like sexism and racism are, at base, rankism.… (more)
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Robert Fuller clearly put his heart and soul into Somebodies and Nobodies and it was certainly an interesting read. I found some of the repetition a bit tedious so I have to admit to skimming the latter third of the book. There is a lovely bibliography in the back and I will be perusing it for some ideas to add to my wishlist. I am glad I read the book; it verified a lot of the life lessons my grandmother taught me as a child. ( )
  pussreboots | Oct 17, 2014 |
While I agreed with the sentiment, I found it a little repetitive and simplistic. ( )
1 vote Moomin_Mama | Oct 13, 2011 |
I'm afraid I need to rename this The Book of the Big Duh. It's nothing but 180 pages of painfully obvious statements presented as if they were uncommonly insightful observations. This book introduces the concept of rankism, which is basically a general term for all forms of groundless bias, including (but not limited to) racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia. Anyone can be a victim of rankism, even rich white men, and it's bad for not only self-esteem but productivity as well. Whenever you treat someone poorly because you feel more important in some way (socially, for instance), they pass along the indignity to someone lower than them, and so it continues on down the line. Everyone is a somebody in certain aspects of his/her life and nobodies in others. Everyone wants recognition, and some people will go to drastic measures to get it. The solution is not to do away with ranking systems all together, but rather to treat others with dignity and allow them more control over their own lives so they never get pigeonholed as a loser, both to others and in their own minds.

Which are simply not groundbreaking ideas.

I am sad to live in a society where this book was viewed as necessary. Stand up for yourself when you're wronged, but being disrespected does not give you license to disrespect others. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Why do we need an official movement? Why not just put it into practice in our own lives? ( )
1 vote melydia | Oct 28, 2009 |
There is nothing new in this book in some ways from what any reader of the literature of the various "movements" for inclusion and power of the last century already knows. But this book invites us look beyond the obvious discrimi-nations to the one he names as the "mother of all "Isms," rankism. This book is written for a 21st century context and is not a rehash of the older literature. It moves us to look at ourselves and our behavior close at home (family, community, workplace) and at the level of our organizational systems/communities.

"What primarily marks people for mistreatment and exploitation today is not race or gender but low rank and the powerlessness it signifies. In plain language, what matters is whether you're a "somebody" or a "nobody."

From his epilogue:
The somebodies will be nobodies and
the nobodies will be somebodies.
Matthew 19:30 (trans John Dominic Crossan)

"From the merged vantage point of somebodies who know they are equally nobodies, domination and servility are repellent, insupportable and, like slavery, destined to become one of the embarrassments of the human story. Ranksim contravenes a spiritual intuition that can be read on every page of that story: the equality of personhood and the sanctity of human dignity. Relegating rankism to the margins is at once a moral goal and a practical necessity in the twenty-first century."

It's the prophet's whack on the head for our time, inviting us to make the connections for our own sake and for the sake of the world. Yes the game is used against us, but we turn around and use it against others. Do we really want to pass it forward?
3 vote ahuntca | May 10, 2009 |
A point worth making. ( )
1 vote AsYouKnow_Bob | Feb 11, 2009 |
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Robert Moors Cabot
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As a student at Oberlin College during the 1950s, I was taught to be proud of its early advocacy of equal opportunity for women and blacks.
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