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Robert W. Fuller, Ph.D., former president of Oberlin College, is an authority on rankism and dignity.
Rankism is the exploitation or humiliation of those with less power or lower status. Rankism occurs when somebodies use their power to take advantage of those they see as nobodies. As the cause of indignity, rankism is no more defensible than the familiar indignities of racism, sexism, etc. Eliminating rankism doesn’t mean eliminating rank any more than getting rid of racism means getting rid of race. Rank can be a useful tool that helps us achieve group goals. It is the abuse of rank that does the damage and calls for attention.