Social Differentiation: Definition, Examples of Social Differentiation, Characteristics & Forms

Social differentiation is the difference in members of society horizontally

Sinaumed’s certainly knows that our society in Indonesia consists of individuals with different backgrounds. A simple example is classmates at school, there are boys and girls, some are Muslims and some are Christians.

Well, actually these differences are a form of social differentiation. However, what exactly is social differentiation? And what are the characteristics? The following article will briefly present social differentiation, from definition to examples.

Definition of Social Differentiation

Examples include differences in society based on differences in race, ethnicity, religion, gender, ethnicity or occupation.

In Indonesia itself, there are various examples of gender, all of which are discussed in the book Gender Diversity in Indonesia.

Based on these categories, there is no higher or lower. Everything is equal to one another.

Horizontal differences in terms of social differentiation are important to emphasize that every society is different and these differences do not place one group or individual at a higher or lower degree. All are equal and the same.

According to Soerjono Soekanto, the difference in social differentiation is a form of variation in occupation, prestige and group power in society. That is, differentiation can show the diversity that is owned by a nation.

This social differentiation also occurs because an individual or group is biologically or physically different from the beginning of its existence and has been differentiated through heredity.

Characteristics of Social Differentiation

The concept of social differentiation has characteristics or differences. The characteristics of social differentiation are divided into three, namely physical characteristics, social characteristics and cultural characteristics. Here’s a further explanation.

Physical characteristics

Physical characteristics of social differentiation are characteristics related to race, skin color, eye color, hair shape, nose shape and so on. In essence, the physical characteristics of social differentiation are obvious because it appears from the outside the differences in each individual.

Each physical characteristic of each individual has its own peculiarities and uniqueness which can be a differentiator from one another. Therefore the differences in each individual cannot be used as a determining factor for a higher or better race.

Social Characteristics 

Social characteristics in social differentiation are characteristics that have a relationship with individual functions in every aspect of life in society. The function of social characteristics itself is related to the profession and work that is owned by each individual.

Every type of job or profession chosen by each individual has its own function. The job or profession chosen by each individual depends on and is in accordance with the expertise, talents and interests of the individual.

Each individual has their own expertise, interests and talents, therefore each individual also has the right to choose the work he wants to do. As with physical characteristics, a person’s work cannot be judged which profession is better and which profession is not.

Cultural Characteristics

Cultural characteristics in social differentiation are characteristics that have a relationship with the culture and customs of the people in a country or region.

Every existing culture, of course, has its own beauty and uniqueness that cannot be compared with the culture of other people.

In Indonesia itself there are many cultural systems that are characteristic for each region. For example, the culture of marriage in Javanese society is certainly different from the culture in Batak society, each of these differences is characteristic because it is unique and different from other cultures.

In the book Collection of Indonesian Ragam Stories, Sinaumed’s can also find thirteen interesting stories that discuss issues of ethnicity and culture, physical diversity, social life, and technology.

Those are the three characteristics of social differentiation. Next, Sinaumed’s needs to know the form of social differentiation in order to better understand what is meant by social differentiation.

Forms of Social Differentiation

Society can basically be distinguished or differentiated according to several criteria such as the three characteristics of social differentiation that have been described previously. Apart from being distinguished by their characteristics, society can also be distinguished by the form of social differentiation. These forms of social differentiation are divided into six sections, along with a full explanation.

1. Gender

The first form of social differentiation is gender. This gender is classified as a form of social differentiation because it cannot show different levels or can be differentiated horizontally.

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Basically, men and women have the same degree and position. Essentially, the differences between men and women are horizontal because they only concern the shape and nature of the different sexes.

Even so, sometimes there is a view that judges that men are stronger than women and can do heavy work. In fact, women do tend to be physically weaker than men.

However, this view cannot be used as a benchmark to judge that men have a higher degree than women. This condition occurs because it is solely due to natural tendencies that exist in each male and female self.

2. Clan 

The clan referred to in the form of social differentiation here is a social unit with members who have kinship relations. Members of the clan are joined because they are based on blood relations or lineage or genealogy.

Kinship groups based on maternal lineage are known as matrilineal, while kinship groups based on father’s lineage are known as patrilineal.

For example, such as clans that can be found in the Batak community. Until now, the Batak people still apply the clan system, generally the child’s clan is derived from his father’s. Examples include the Harahap, Simanjuntak and Nasution clans.

3. Ethnicity

Ethnicity is the third form of social differentiation. Ethnic groups are formed because of individual awareness which is marked by the existence of unity in characteristics, patterns of behavior, customs, origins and culture.

As with cultural characteristics, the form of ethnic groups in social differentiation in Indonesia has a large number and each has its own characteristics and uniqueness. Thus, ethnicity cannot be used as a benchmark that an individual has a high degree because he comes from a particular ethnic group.

Every ethnic group in Indonesia has equality, dignity and worth and all ethnic groups are equally guaranteed by the Indonesian legal constitution. You can also learn more about basic information regarding various ethnic groups in Indonesia in the book Encyclopedia of Ethnic Tribes in Indonesia.

4. Race

Every individual is born to parents with a certain racial background and has distinctive physical characteristics. Because, every individual is unique, so it cannot be said that certain races have better values ​​than other races. Differentiating an individual and judging a person’s degree based on his race is a discriminatory act.

There are several types of races that Sinaumed’s needs to know about. Here’s the explanation:

1) The Australoid race is a race that has physical characteristics, namely a medium body with curly hair, black eyes, thick lips and black skin.
2) The Mongoloid race is a race that has physical characteristics of straight hair, slanted eyes, has yellow skin and thin lips.
3) The Cucasaois race is a race that has physical characteristics that are generally owned by indigenous people in Europe and North Asia.
4) The Negroid race is a race that has physical characteristics that are generally owned by native people from the African region as well as parts of Asia.

5. Religion

Generally, every individual has a religion. This religion has a function as a guide for human life. Religion has no level and cannot be used as a determining factor that an individual has a higher or lower degree because of the religion he adheres to.

Every individual who chooses to adhere to a certain religion, then that individual is ready and confident that what he believes is the right thing, therefore religion cannot be compared. However, in reality there are various problems that challenge the Indonesian nation in this regard which are also discussed in the book Democracy, Religion, Pancasila.

All religions regulate and teach goodness, religion also regulates good relations between humans and the relationship between humans and the God they believe in. There are several recognized religions in Indonesia, namely Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism as well as several traditional belief systems that grow in society.

6. Profession 

This last form of social differentiation is also found in the social characteristics of social differentiation that have been described previously. Every profession or job in society has its own function.

This is because a profession is an activity that requires special expertise, therefore each profession cannot be compared and cannot be used as a differentiating factor that determines that individuals with certain professions have a higher degree or level.

Every profession in society contributes to life, therefore these professions exist because they are needed in social life.

Types of Social Differentiation

After knowing the meaning, characteristics and even forms of social differentiation, Sinaumed’s needs to know the types of social differentiation. There are various types of social categories in society which are the criteria for the occurrence of social differentiation.

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According to a sociologist Kaare Svalastoga, types of social differentiation are divided into three types, namely as follows.

1. Level Differentiation or Rank Differentiation

This type of level differentiation arises because of inequality in the distribution of goods and services in an area. This inequality can cause goods and services to have different prices.

Differences in prices in an area occur because the distribution of goods and services must go through several parties to get to their actual destination.

2. Functional Differentiation or Functional Differentiation

The second type of differentiation is the division of labor that arises because there are people or individuals who do different or different jobs. This can be seen in a social institution. There are differences in the division of assignments or division of labor which can cause each individual to carry out obligations according to their respective functions.

3. Cultural Differentiation or Cultural Differentiation

This third type of social differentiation arises because rules of behavior are appropriate and differ according to certain situations. These rules of conduct are also called norms which have the aim of regulating order in society and may differ in each region.

This Sociology book will discuss sociological material including social differentiation material as in this article. In addition, this book has been adapted to the 2013 curriculum.

Examples of Social Differentiation 

To be clearer, Sinaumed’s needs to know some examples of social differentiation, here are some examples of social differentiation according to their forms.

  1. Differences in skin color in Indonesian society, such as white, olive, brown, black, brown and so on.
  2. Indonesian people are classified according to their religion, such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism.
  3. The classification of the Indonesian people according to the clan of their tribe, such as the Nanggolian, Siahaan, Butar-butar Sinaga, Situmorang clans in the Batak tribe.
  4. Classification of people based on race, such as Mongoloid, Caucasoid. Negroes and so on.
  5. The classification of Indonesian society according to ethnicity, such as Javanese, Batak, Madurese, Sundanese and others.
  6. Classification of Indonesian people according to their profession or work, for example employees, shareholders, employers, laborers and others.
  7. Classification of people according to their customs, such as Balinese customs, Javanese customs, Sundanese customs, Batak customs and others.

The above are some examples of social differentiation in Indonesia. These examples are in accordance with the notion of social differentiation which says that differentiation in society is horizontal or cannot be used as a factor to determine the degree of an individual.

Does social differentiation have an impact on social life? Of course, social differentiation has an impact, here are some of the impacts caused by social differentiation.

Impact of Social Differentiation 

Social differentiation is a natural phenomenon and occurs in every society in the world. This diversity or difference will always be found by Sinaumed’s wherever Sinaumed’s is located.

Because basically, every individual is unique and different from one another. Differentiation functions as a differentiator and not to show which individual is better.

Social differentiation has several impacts and influences on social life, including the following.

1. Differentiation can give rise to primordialism, namely the assumption that each individual has that his group is the most superior to other groups.
2. Social differentiation can give rise to ethnocentrism, which is the assumption of individuals who believe that their ethnic group is better than other ethnic groups.
3. Social differentiation creates prejudice against individuals who look or are different from themselves.
4. Differentiation can lead to a discriminatory attitude towards a minority group.

Even though it has been clearly stated in the meaning of differentiation, it turns out that social differentiation still creates some impacts that tend to be negative because each individual will tend to compare ethnicity, physique, type of work from other individuals.

Comparisons made by this society can lead to discriminatory attitudes and look down on other individuals who are different from themselves.

Meanwhile, social differentiation clearly explains that the differences in society are horizontal and cannot be used as a determinant that one group is better than another or vice versa.

Well, Sinaumed’s, that’s a glimpse of the social differentiation described in this one article. If Sinaumed’s wants to know more about social differentiation material, Sinaumed’s can buy books through because sinaumedia as #Friends Without Borders always provides quality and various books to add to your insight!