What is a Hierarchy?
the object of the
game is to climb up ladders
“higher” people are accountable to
build and maintain hierarchies, and to
channel power and resources to themselves
“lower” people support and hold up hierarchies,
send their power and resources to “higher” people,
and look to the top for direction, permission, approval
“problems” such as deception, inequality, fear, greed, scarcity,
violence, and war keep hierarchies healthy and participants engaged
Hierarchies are built and maintained with consistent and predictable attitudes and behaviors. The rules and roles might appear ridiculous, but are nonetheless pervasive and rigidly followed. Everyone in a hierarchy lives by the dictated higher or lower roles.
Evidence of Hierarchies
Many of us visualize a hierarchy as a pyramid. We imagine large numbers of people on the bottom levels, and progressively smaller numbers on each level moving up the pyramid. Many well-known hierarchies are pyramidal, including corporate, government, and religious organizations. The majority of hierarchies, however, have other configurations.
Shape and Size
Shape is an unreliable indicator of the presence of a hierarchy. They appear in a great variety of configurations and number of levels.
Likewise, the size of hierarchies varies greatly. They can be built with two entities or billions of participants.
• Some have a small number of people on the top with everyone else in lower levels. In the United States, the richest 1 percent owns 40 percent of the country’s resources.
• Others have few levels with fairly equal numbers in each level. The gender hierarchy has approximately the same number of people in each level.
• Some have more people on the top than on the bottom. When one child in a classroom is picked on or shunned by all the other students, it’s lonely at the bottom.
If we can’t depend on size or shape to find our culprit, then how do we find hierarchies? We use Sleuthing Techniques.