What a hierarchical society we live in

Something that so often gets missed. Yes, we live in a hierarchical society. Some think this is bad: all those public schoolboys and Oxbridge types running the place.

The bit that gets missed is that there is no one hierarchy. There are many:

But what is surely true is that the de facto hierarchy—who is seen as higher status, abler, more deserving of respect than whom—is largely independent of the corresponding hierarchy in the outside world. And of course, in the outside world, there are multiple and inconsistent hierarchies—the championship bridge player or chess master may or may not have a high status job, advanced education, other status related features.

We don\’t gain (all) of our status from birth, or education, accent, skin colour or any one single factor. We don\’t even gain our status from a specific combination of them or other factors. We gain status in a hierarchy by those others in that same field offering us status.

Which is why the complaints about us being a hierarchical society seem so odd. Of course we are, humans are status seeking beings, but at least we\’re a society with many hierarchies rather than just the one.

1 thought on “What a hierarchical society we live in”

  1. The Pedant-General

    Yes, but the issue is that so many of these multiple status hierarchies correlate rather well with being public-school/oxbridge educated.

    Indeed, there may even be a causative link: most of the hierarchies depend on some form of intelligence or the application of intelligence.

    These are very strongly influenced by being in receipt of a sound education.

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