Rankism can take many forms, including
- exploiting one's position within a hierarchy to secure unwarranted advantages and benefits (e.g. massive corporate bonuses);
- abusing a position of power (e.g., abusive parent or priest, corrupt CEO, bully boss, prisoner abuse);
- using rank as a shield to get away with insulting or humiliating others with impunity;
- using rank to maintain a position of power long after it can be justified;
- exporting the rank achieved in one sphere of activity to claim superior value as a person;
- exploiting rank that is illegitimately acquired or held (as in situations resting on specious distinctions of social rank, such as racism, sexism, intellectualism, wealth, religious beliefs, hereditary, marital status, gang affiliation, criminal record, egotism or classism).
Rankism can occur in any social hierarchy, such as governments, corporations, families, non-profit organizations, and universities.