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Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank.

  1. Dec 2, 2004 #1
    by Fuller, Robert W

    I was wondering if anybody had come across this book by that physicist. It is the same guy that wrote a text I am sure a few of you are pretty familiar with and one that I have found useful as well:


    I recently read through Somebodies and Nobodies and found it was pretty interesting for his means of casting this ubiquitous social problem. It is interesting that he casts all the -ISMS(racism,sexism,etc.) into a more simple framework of abuse according to rank. I found it to be insightful and thought provoking and I was wondering if there was any feedback on this particular book. Of course I would not mind discussing his other book as well! :biggrin:
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2004 #2

    On Personal Relationships

    In personal relations, the abuse of rank is experienced subjectively as an insult to dignity. Our antennae are tuned to detect the slightest trace of condescension or indignity in others’ treatment of us. Pulling rank takes the form of disrespect, insults, disdain, 'dissing,' berating, snobbism, and humiliation. It is meant to demean, to exploit, to wound, to harm, and to damage - and it does. Even when not deliberately malicious, rank abuse can still warp and deform our interactions.

    On Productivity
    While on a visit to Philadelphia, George Washington noticed that free men there could do in "two or three days what would employ [his slaves] a month or more." His explanation that slaves had no chance "to establish a good name [and so were] too regardless of a bad one" was that of a practical man concerned with the bottom line, not that of a moralizer, and therefore all the more telling.

    Today, employers are not dealing with slaves, though it is sometimes argued that wage-earners are wage-slaves and salaried employees are only marginally more independent. Negative motivation - fear of demotion or job loss - is now dwarfed by the positive motivation that comes from being part of a team of responsible professionals. Eliminating recognition deficiencies in the work place is proving as good for the bottom line as eliminating nutritional deficiencies was for the productivity of day laborers.

    On Learning
    The real and imagined threat of rank abuse pervades all our educational institutions from kindergarten through graduate school. Finding and holding one’s position in a hierarchy takes priority over all else. In any institution with gradations of rank, protecting one’s dignity from insult and injury siphons attention and energy away from learning.

    No child - no human being - is expendable. Everyone has something to contribute, and when that contribution is made and acknowledged, he or she feels like a somebody. Helping individuals locate that something and contribute it is the proper business of education.

    On Leadership
    In any institution, rank-based discrimination limits the access of potential high performers to better jobs by inhibiting movement among ranks. It also puts those holding high rank under the kind of stress that gradually undercuts the creativity that brought them success in the first place.

    Repeating themselves gradually separates somebodies from their creative source, depleting them until they become empty shells. With enough repetitions, they begin to wonder why they ever thought they had anything to offer. Burnout is the occupational hazard of somebodyness.

    On Spirit
    Our passions are unique and personal. They grow out of our questions, out of the contradictions we feel with other people, with others’ work, or with society. Initially we wonder Who’s right? What’s beautiful? What’s fair? What’s true? We’re not sure. Our questions generate our individuality. Through our response to them, we define ourselves, we become someone in particular. Rank, social and otherwise, still keeps many from cultivating their questions into life-altering quests.

    Though I would provide some thought from his book. Here is a link to the site called:
    http://www.breakingranks.net/index.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
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