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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 ?
The presidential election campaign which has just finished is relevant from this point of view: it was all centered on the criminal issues in which the members of the power structures supporting the candidates are involved; the elimination of adversaries and not the analysis of political programs is the key subject of the so-called debate.
The power structure within a party is a vital element for politics,'' he said.
The book concludes with a fourfold typology of a community's power structure that is based on the relative degree to which the business and government sectors are centralized.
But a second line of support formed easily because of Payne's connections to Atlanta's power structure, including Robert M.
The investigators report that key clues to this type of power structure, such as elaborate burials of elite individuals and extensive religious artworks, remain absent.
California needs an attorney general unafraid to shake up the Sacramento power structure, and there's little reason to think Delgadillo would rise to that role.
This would effectively create the triangular global power structure anticipated by Orwell's 1984, in which the world was organized into three regional superstates--Eurasia, Eastasia, and Oceania--which, in various configurations of alliances, fought a constant conflict with each other.
In her discussion of masculinity in Singleton's film Boyz N the Hood, Robyn Wiegman astutely notes that the black male is "stranded between the competing--at times overdetermining--logics of race and gender" (174): On the one hand, as a black within a racist social and political hierarchy, he has neither power nor privilege; yet, on the other hand, as a male within a still patriarchal power structure, he has both.
Cervellera notes that many of these are "precisely those professionals, entrepreneurs, that the party is trying to absorb into its own power structure.
Democratization should be promoted within Muslim and other countries and in the world power structure.
But in the newly sensitized corporate power structure, I find that executives are as OK with us as they can be, considering they can feel the good ol' white boy club slowly losing its grip.
A power structure that is never challenged ultimately leads to sterility.