A Feeling for Hierarchy

Mary Douglas

in Believing Scholars

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780823225255
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236589 | DOI:
A Feeling for Hierarchy

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This chapter discusses the influence of Mary Douglas' religious faith on her work and examines the role of hierarchy in her life. It describes hierarchy as the encompassing principle of order which systematizes any field of work, whether a library, a game, an alphabet, mathematics, and systematics of all kinds. It argues that hierarchy restricts competition and institutes authority. It is a positional system in which everyone has a place, every place has a prescribed trajectory of roles through time, in total the pattern of positions is coherent and the roles are coordinated. Born in 1921, Douglas first experienced hierarchy in a very modest form in her grandparents' home, and then in her convent schooling. She recognized hierarchy as a control on competition in the structure of checks and balances. Hierarchy is a pivotal issue for her understanding of social theory.

Keywords: Mary Douglas; hierarchy; systematics; competition; authority; positional system; grandparents

Chapter.  9907 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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