“The word hierarchy was first used in the sixth century CE, when it referred to levels of angelic choruses, but it soon came to be applied to the governance of the Church, to describe its strictly ordered levels of authority and subordination. Gradually, from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, its meaning widened beyond the religious context to apply to the natural sciences and to society more generally. These days it can refer to organizations, values, and social relationships.”

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