Difference Between Social Stratification and Social Differentiation

Social Stratification vs Social Differentiation
 

The difference between social stratification and social differentiation is subtle as they both are closely related terms. When speaking of the society, and also in the discipline of sociology, you may have heard of the terms, social stratification and social differentiation. In the society, people are categorized based on their income, occupation, social status and other factors. This categorization is referred to as social stratification. Social differentiation, on the other hand, refers to the distinction of individuals and groups based on various factors such as biological, socio-economic differences, which leads to the allocation of specific roles and status in the society. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two concepts in depth.

What is Social Stratification?

If we pay attention to the society, people are divided and categorized into different groups based on their income, wealth, occupation, status, and similar factors. This is known as social stratification. According to the wealth, occupation, and the status of a particular individual he is placed in a social class. Social stratification can be seen in all societies whether it is a very modern society or else a traditional society. This is a resultant of social inequality.

When we observe the modern society, there are mainly three social classes. They are the upper class, the middle class, and the lower class. Although this model is adopted in most societies, in the past, there were other models of social stratification. For example, in Asia, people were stratified based on the caste system.

In the discipline of Sociology, Social stratification is one of the key topics that is being addressed about social inequality. Karl Marx and Max Weber presented a theoretical framework with which social stratification can be comprehended. According to Marx, the society is stratified into two classes in all societies. He looks at each society as a mode of production. In each case, there are two groups, the haves, and the have-nots. He believed that the economy was the most important factor in creating and sustaining social inequality and stratification. Weber’s ideas, on the other hand, are a bit different. He believed that other than the economic factor, there are other factors that influence social stratification. He presented three main factors. They are the class, power, and status.

Difference Between Social Stratification and Social Differentiation

A middle class family

What is Social Differentiation?

Social differentiation refers to the distinction between individuals or social groups based on various factors such as biological and socio-economic differences based on which the individual or group is allocated to different roles and status in the society. Social differentiation results in inequality, stratification and even certain ideologies and power differentials.

In sociology, different types of differentiations are introduced. Some of these types are stratificatory differentiation, functional differentiation, segmentary differentiation, etc. Various sociologists such as Durkheim, Simmel, Luhmann have been interested in the study of social differentiation. The key connection between social differentiation and social stratification is that social differentiation can lead to social stratification. For example, the difference between males and females results in an unequal treatment for the two sexes. This stratification in society is a consequence of differentiation.

 Social Stratification vs Social Differentiation

Social differentiation of males and females can lead to social stratification

What is the difference between Social Stratification and Social Differentiation?

Definitions of Social Stratification and Social Differentiation:

Social Stratification: Social stratification is when people are divided and categorized into different groups based on their income, wealth, occupation, status and similar factors.

Social Differentiation: Social differentiation is the distinction between individuals or social groups based on factors such as biological and socio-economic differences that lead to the allocation of different roles and status in the society.

Characteristics of Social Stratification and Social Differentiation:

Attention:

Social Stratification: In social stratification, attention is clearly paid to social classes.

Social Differentiation: In social differentiation, attention is paid to individuals and even groups.

Nature:

Social Stratification: Social stratification is much more complex. It involves power differentials, wealth, and status.

Social Differentiation: Social differentiation can even result due to biological differences. However, ultimately social differentiation leads to social stratification.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Middle Class family by Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Dagestani man and woman via Wikicommons (Public Domain)