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Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank Paperback – 15 Apr 2004
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When discrimination is race-based, we call it racism; when it's gender based we call it sexism. This book introduces rank-based discrimination -- or 'rankism' -- a form of injustice that everyone knows, but no one sees. It explains our reluctance to confront rankism, shows where analyses based on identity fall short and, using dozens of examples, traces many forms of injustice and unfairness back to rankism.
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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