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the ordering of parts or elements of a whole from the highest to the lowest.
The term “hierarchy” was introduced not earlier than the second half of the fifth century by Pseudo-Dionysius in his treatises The Celestial Hierarchy and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. Until the 19th century, it was used to describe the organization of the Christian church. The development of the conception of hierarchy in science began in the second half of the 19th century. In the social sciences, the conception of hierarchy was originally used to describe class-estate divisions in an antagonistic society (for example, feudal hierarchy) and to characterize the structure of authority, especially of bureaucracy. In contemporary bourgeois sociology, numerous research studies have been devoted to the hierarchy of prestige, the hierarchy of wealth, and the hierarchy of power and control as an expression of social stratification and of social inequality.
With the appearance of the general systems theory in the 20th century, the conception of hierarchy was applied to describe any system objects. Hierarchically organized forms exist in all spheres of objective reality: inorganic, biological, and social. In Marxist philosophy, the idea of the hierarchy of qualitatively irreducible structural levels of matter has been developed. In general organizational theory, hierarchy is seen as the principle of control that secures the effective functioning of the organization. The hierarchy of levels (tiers) of a language is distinguished in linguistics. In graph theory the hierarchically constructed graph (the so-called tree) is used.
L. A. SEDOV