What is social differentiation? We will unearth the answer through explanations below. Observe your surrounding where you live. It certainly is diverse, isn't it? There are women and men. There are white, brown, and black people. Some convert to Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, and Buddha. Some work as doctor, teacher, university lecture, editor, labour, civil servant, farmer, vendor, factory employee, and bank employee.
Definition of Social Differentiation
Can you identify wheather a certain sex, religion, profession, or ethnicity are better or higher than the other? It is very difficult to answer. There is no single scientific evidence that can prove men are superior to women nor white people are better than black people. By the same token, there is no hard evidence that proves one religion is better than the other. Hence, in sociology, these grouping or classification of society differences cannot be done vertically, but horisontally. Classifying society horisontally is what we called social differentiation.
According to sociology dictionary, the word differentiation means classification or categorization of particular differences that fall into the same category. In other word, it is to classify society horisontally, flat, or, parallel. The working assumption is there is no higher or lower group resulting from that division, although in reality, there are some people that perceive their respective group sits above the other. For instance, racist group in South Africa considers white people are far superior to black people. This perspective is known as racism. By bearing racism in mind, people identify their own group or culture higher compare to other culture.
In a plural society, horisontal classification according to race, ethnicity, clan, and religion differences is well-known as social diversity. Grouping based on occupation and sex differences is called social heterogeneity. Social diversity is characterised by the differentiation of the following:
1. Physical Features
Social differentiation occurs if there are differences in physical features such as skin colour, hair type, eyes, nose, and jaw shape. These physical features are known as quantitative phenotype characteristics.
2. Social Features
This type of differentiation exists because there are occupational differences which resulting in divergent perspective and behavioural pattern in society. Distinction in roles, prestige, and power fall into this category. For example, pattern of behaviour of a soldier is different from that of a teacher.
3. Cultural Features
Cultural differentiation is closely linked to society's perspective on values such as religion, familial system, tenacity, and toughness. Belief in these values can be recognised through cultural attire, language, arts, architecture, and religion.