Hierarchy Definition

1. Act of establishing the separation of a structure in a system based on the degree of power, responsibility or importance of its members.

Etymology: Conjugation given on the evolution of the term hierarchy, with reference in Latin hierarchywith respect to the Greek ἱεραρχία (hierarchy), associated with the adjective hierarch (which can also act as a noun as a representative figure), in the form of the Latin hierarchaon the Greek ἱεράρχης (hierarchēs), built on ἱερός (wounded), which refers to ‘sacred’, and -άρχης (-archēs), of ἄρχων (archon), which refers to ‘leader’, ‘ruler’.

Grammatical category: noun fem.
in syllables: hierarchy.


The of the hierarchy It is a common action or practice that is carried out in various fields, areas, subjects, among others, and that consists of organize or classify them into different levels. Understands the process by which a system based on some type of ladder is designed.

Basically the hierarchy is the organization through categories that have different importance and therefore attribute different relevance and values ​​to the hierarchical people or things. The clergy, the army or the traditional company are examples of this model. In this type of organization, a criterion of subordination is imposed on the group of individuals that make up a group.

Various criteria are established to carry out the hierarchy, which may have to do with the class, the typology or any other determining issue that allows the classification to be developed.

It will always imply an organization that goes from bottom to top, that is, the positions that are lower down the scale will be the least important and valued, so they will have less importance in relation to those higher up or the one that is immediately located. above, which obviously will have greater importance.

It should be noted that those positions that are at the top of the hierarchy will have a higher power or authority with respect to those that are at lower levels. For this reason, whoever is in a higher hierarchy may, to the extent permitted, order someone who is in a lower position to carry out an activity or fulfill a task.

Performs an administrative function

Let’s think of a multinational with the following model of authority: a general manager as the person in charge, a series of managers divided by area (production, finance, personnel, etc.), department heads (safety, quality, accounting, etc.) and finally a large group of workers equally ordered on a scale from greater to lesser responsibility. This model has the following general characteristics:

1) the highest authority is the one who establishes the fundamental guidelines,

2) their direct reports are responsible for implementing the guidelines and 3) those who execute the specific actions are those who are at the base of the business pyramid. As is logical, at the higher levels of the hierarchy there is more responsibility, more qualifications and higher remuneration.

Analyzing society scenarios

In some periods of history there has been a pyramid system of society. The Middle Ages is a paradigmatic example of this. Thus, at the base of society were the serfs, peasants and soldiers; on a higher scale were the knights, lords and clergy of low rank; then came the nobles and high leaders of the church and finally the monarch as the supreme authority.

This hierarchy implied the absence of social mobility (if someone was born a peasant, they would be so all their life). This model weakened over time and a more flexible hierarchical system appeared, since someone was born into a social stratum but could change levels depending on their worth.

Today’s society maintains a certain hierarchical structure. However, so that the hierarchy does not translate into abuse of power, there are some corrective mechanisms: equal opportunities or positive discrimination of those who are in a disadvantaged situation (for example, people with disabilities).

Anarchist ideals and hierarchies

In the history of anarchism there is a radical opposition to any form of hierarchy. Said opposition can be expressed with some of the slogans of the anarchist movement: without masters or gods, neither oppressors nor oppressed, neither god nor country nor king nor master. In short, no hierarchies.