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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
This representational strategy embeds a subtle yet compelling gender politics that problematizes social conventions of normalcy, disrupts the homogeneity of cultural normative, and ultimately legitimizes an alternative (self)representation of identity that is not confined by the hierarchized binary oppositions of self/other, man/woman, normal/abnormal.
They also interact with other elites in the "field of power", where forms of capital are hierarchized, and where the authority of their cultural capital is compared to political and economic power (Bourdieu 2011).
(11) In the case of The Descendants, this "naturalized" and "hierarchized" spatiality referred to by Heath, Bourdieu and Said is visually rendered through panoramic and bird's-eye's shots of Hawaiian landscape, but its aim at totality inevitably collapses as the emotional scenario of the story ends up acknowledging partial and changing membership, contingent insiderness, uncertainty, losses and absences.
At the same time, we think that the students hierarchized the dance styles known and preferred by them in a normal way, by having in view the large popularization of these styles in the latest years.
These sagas hierarchized through the blinkers and epithets of race (white) and gender (male), intentionally or otherwise.
The author regards both the Indian penal code and Thomas's Minute on Indian Education as indicative of Macaulay's worldview: "Evangelical notions of a universal human family hierarchized in relation to stadial theory, together with assumptions about imperial responsibility to those unable to govern themselves, were firmly imprinted on Tom's mind" (201).
He was particularly disappointed in society's power struggles, which he saw were based on mutual aggression and hierarchized consciousness.
As an objectified entity, the human form threatens both the ideal of progress and a society that imagines the body in terms of a hierarchized organic metaphor that speaks to Foucault's notions of biopolitical control.
During this process of differentiation, a further paradox appears: social classes are hierarchized as they are inscribed into space--this tendency is increasing rather than, as is often claimed, diminishing.
Acheson begins chapter two, "TRUTH: The 'Way of Dichotomy': Dichotomous Tables and John Milton s Paradise Lost" with an overview of dichotomous tables published as appendices to the Bible in early modern England, arguing that they serve both to represent its matter, in the form of genealogies, tables of contents, and reading guides, and to model a way of thinking through relational and hierarchized categories.
First, international law is, as we have seen, a weakly hierarchized law, such that the case of movement from a European legal hierarchy to a purported international legal hierarchy appears to be purely academic.