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Fuller, Robert W. 1936- (Robert Works)

Fuller, Robert W. 1936- (Robert Works)


Born 1936; married Claire Sheridan; children: four. Education: Attended Oberlin College; Princeton University, Ph.D., 1961.


Home—Berkeley, CA. E-mail—[email protected]


Physicist, educator, and writer. Columbia University, New York, NY, faculty member, c. 1961-70, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, president, appointed 1970. Also worked in citizen diplomacy to improve relations with the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War and as board chair of the nonprofit global corporation Internews.


Causal and Moral Law: Their Relationship as Examined in Terms of a Model of the Brain, Center for Advanced Studies, Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), 1967.

Somebodies and Nobodies: The Quest for Identity, Groundhog Press (Oberlin, OH), 1994.

Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, New Society Publishers (Gabriola Island, Canada), 2003.

All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity, Berrett-Koehler (San Francisco, CA), 2006.

Also coauthor of Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics.


Robert W. Fuller is a physicist and educator who worked for many years as a citizen diplomat, primarily in the area of improving relations between the United States and the U.S.S.R. However, following the end of the Cold War, Fuller found that once his work as a citizen diplomat ended he was again became a "nobody" and that throughout his career he had been at times alternatively a "somebody" and a "nobody." As a result of his experience, he came to name the abuse of power inherent in rank as "rankism" Fuller has gone on to write about "rankism" in books such as Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, and All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity.

"Somebodies are the relatively powerful and successful, nobodies the relatively weak and vulnerable," Fuller noted in an interview on the Dignitarian Foundation Web site. "Somebodies with higher rank and more power in any given context can maintain an environment that is hostile and demeaning to nobodies with lower rank and less power in that context." The author went on to comment: "Taken together, those of low rank vastly outnumber those of high rank. They constitute a latent progressive majority."

In Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, the author discusses the concepts of somebody and nobody and points out that, like him, we are all at times somebodies and nobodies. Despite that fact, writes Fuller, all people are entitled to be treated with dignity throughout the ups and downs of their lives. As he addresses the theme of "rankism," the author also writes about the necessity to insure that individuals, corporations, and governments do not foster physical, mental, social, or spiritual abuse. In a review in Tikkun, John Steiner noted that "we read this book at our own risk, because whatever rankist tendencies we secretly harbor will be revealed (no pain, no gain!). However, we will walk away with a new truth serum and a new tool kit. Not only will we be able to recognize these tendencies in ourselves, but we will now see them in our families, our communities, and our institutions, including our governments." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "Fuller makes a persuasive case for recognizing this behavior [rankism] as an abuse of power that transcends race—or gender."

In All Rise, the author continues his writings about "rankism" with a focus on its costs to individuals in terms of their personal, social, and professional lives. The author also examines how to reform both institutions, and society as a whole, to ensure that everyone is treated equally and fairly. Referring to the book as "stimulating," a Publishers Weekly contributor also wrote that the author's "provocative analysis illuminates a rich vein of social discontent." A California Bookwatch contributor noted the book "as a special recommendation to managers and businesses."



California Bookwatch, November 1, 2006, "Berrett-Koehler Publishers," review of All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity.

Fast Company, June 1, 2003, Polly LaBarre, "I'm a Somebody—Get Me out of Here!," review of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, p. 50.

Internet Bookwatch, February 1, 2007, review of All Rise.

Publishers Weekly, March 10, 2003, review of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, p. 67; April 17, 2006, review of All Rise, p. 179.

Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2006, review of All Rise.

Tikkun, September 1, 2003, John Steiner, review of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, p. 70.


Breaking Ranks, (June 23, 2007), profile of author.

Dignitarian Foundation Web site, (February 9, 2007), "Conversation with Robert W. Fuller."

Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Web site, (June 24, 2007), "Global Advisory Board," brief profile of author.

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