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A group of people who form an ascending chain of power or authority.

Officers in a government, for example, form an escalating series of ranks or degrees of power, with each rank subject to the authority of the one on the next level above. In a majority of hierarchical arrangements, there are a larger number of people at the bottom than at the top.

Originally, the term was used to mean government by a body of priests. Currently, a hierarchy is used to denote any body of individuals arranged or classified according to capacity, authority, position, or rank.


(Arrangement in a series), noun categorization, chain, classification, collocation, gradation, grouping, order, order of succession, range, run, seriation, series, succession, system


(Persons in authority), noun authorities, bureaucracy, commanders, controllers, dictators, directors, government, heads, leadership power, management, managers, masters, officials, persons in power, powers, regency, regime, rulers, sovereignty
See also: class

HIERARCHY, eccl. law. A hierarchy signified, originally, power of the priest; for in the beginning of societies, the priests were entrusted with all the power but, among the priests themselves, there were different degrees of power and authority, at the summit of which was the sovereign pontiff, and this was called the hierarchy. Now it signifies, not so much the power of the priests as the border of power.

References in periodicals archive ?
Cette approche << critique >> de la reflexivite remet en cause les rapports inevitablement hierarchises entre les chercheurs adultes et les participants de recherche d'age mineur (voir Best 2007).
Entre un pluralisme de juxtaposition, fait de systemes normatifs concurrents et non hierarchises entre eux, et le monisme utopique de systemes strictement hierarchises et unifies, il y a sans doute place pour construire, a partir de systemes harmonises par un jeu plus souple de marges autorisant des hierarchies enchevetrees, un veritable pluralisme ordonne.
Et comme les groupes etudies sont bien souvent eux-memes hierarchises, a l'image de la societe englobante, n'aurait-il pas mieux valu commencer, et non conclure, par une reflexion sur la pauvrete et ses manifestations?