Are you being silently judged by the angel sitting on top of your Christmas tree?

Posted by ap507 at Dec 18, 2014 11:20 AM |
Professor Martin Parker discusses how angels have long been used to reinforce elitism in human society
Are you being silently judged by the angel sitting on top of your Christmas tree?

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Angels are often associated with Christmas time as celestial beings from above sitting atop decorated trees.

It is fitting that angels are often positioned in high places, as they are an element in one of the oldest explanations for how organisations and hierarchies keep the ‘little guy’ down, according to Professor Martin Parker from the School of Management.

He has suggested that one of our earliest understandings of where authority comes from correlates with ideas about angelic hierarchies. Although we have now largely replaced winged figures with the business magnate sitting atop a pile of money, we still seem to believe that hierarchies are somehow natural and inevitable.

“Hierarchy was, and still is, often seen as a principle of nature. No wonder then that we often assume that society, like angels, must be organised vertically - the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate,” says Professor Parker.

Knowledge of angelic hierarchy dates from hundreds of years ago. In the 5th century, the mysterious theologian Pseudo-Dionysius wrote the definitive work on angelic hierarchies, during which he argued that there were nine orders of hierarchy, ranging from the most humble messenger angels to the most elevated archangels. He explained the necessary existence of these same kinds of hierarchies on Earth.

Fast forward a millennium and Professor Parker suggests we now have business schools in universities across the world teaching the modern version of hierarchy – one that is similar to the model proposed by Pseudo-Dionysius. He argues that hierarchies and management teaching does not need to be organised in such a way.

He said: “We can all be organiers in different ways, at different times. We don’t need to wait for others to do it for us, whether they have MBAs or wings. But to claim this too loudly would be heresy. It would suggest that we could all be angels.”

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