1.0 INTRODUCTION

Human societies are known to differ from animal societies in at least one important respect: even the simplest human society appears to be more internally differentiated from the most complex animal society. Some of these differences are of biological variations: some are male while others are female; some people are taller than others, etc. Apart from this, people in society are also differentiated by any acquired social differences; people differ from one another in their interests, in their attitudes and beliefs, and in their habits. As a matter of fact, these known individual differences determine the social positions or roles, such as being a Doctor, Pharmacists, Mechanical Engineer, Sociologist, Physicist, Chemists, etc.

2.0 OBJECTIVES

At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  1.  describe social differentiation 
  2. describe how members of a group or society are distributed to available positions. 

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1 Definition of Social Differentiation

Social differentiation can be expressed as meaning the divisions of every human society into distinctive social roles and functions, based upon both inherited and acquired differences.
Social differentiation is easily noticed in every human society .It is very important for every society because its operations and existence enhance the continued survival of the society. In human societies, the co- ordination of individual efforts to maintain the society is usually achieved through what is termed as cultural specialisation.

3.2 Distribution of Members of a Society to Available Positions

Human societies distribute their members in the available social positions and induce them to perform the duties of these positions. Therefore, one of the ways of doing this is by ranking. Ranking is one of the ways in which human societies distribute their members in the available social positions. This means that positions available are valued differently such that positions are ranked in order of importance. Therefore, the individuals that fill the position of great importance to the society and who perform functions requiring exceptional skills and abilities usually receive greater reward and priviledges which may include prestige, money, etc., while those individuals that perform the less important tasks are made to receive lesser rewards and privileges. This kind of activities is necessary in order to allow the society to function effectively.

Another way is stratification which happens to be a special type of social differentiation. Societies elaborate the ranking process further by arranging certain social positions in a graded hierarchy of socially superior or inferior ranks. As a matter of fact, when a society displays a graded series of ranks, we say that it is stratified.

SELF-ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1

Explain the two (2) major ways societies distribute its members to positions.

4.0 CONCLUSION

Social stratification is a persistent social fact in the modem societies today. Functionalists (a school of thought in sociology) hold that social stratification is an inevitable and necessary element-of-modern societies.

5.0 SUMMARY

In this unit, we have been able to describe what is meant by social differentiation and how human society into distinctive social roles and functions, based usually upon both inherited and acquired differences. Ranking is one of the ways in which human societies distribute their members in the available social positions. Another way is stratification which happens to be a special type of social differentiation.

6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT

  1. What do you understand by Social differentiation? 
  2. Explain how human societies distribute their members to available positions. 

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SOCIAL DIFFERENTIATION

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