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Believing ScholarsTen Catholic Intellectuals$
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James L. Heft

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780823225255

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823225255.001.0001

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A Feeling for Hierarchy

A Feeling for Hierarchy

(p.94) Chapter 7 A Feeling for Hierarchy
Believing Scholars

Mary Douglas

Fordham University Press

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

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