What are Cross-Cutting Social Differences? | Definition, Working, Pros vs Cons

Most humans live in society. But society is not homogeneous. Here, every group has a different identity, beliefs, and social issues. Sometimes these social issues can relate to each other, and sometimes not. When two different social differences nullify each other, it is called cross-cutting social differences.

Here multiple groups of people accept their differences and diversity for the larger benefit of society. In a sense, cross-cutting social differences unite different groups of people for the larger benefit of society. Let’s learn how cross-cutting social differences work and what the advantages and disadvantages are associated with it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cross-cutting social differences refer to social identities unrelated to each other and do not intersect, such as age, nationality, and religion.
  2. These differences can create shared experiences and differences among individuals from different groups.
  3. Cross-cutting social differences can contribute to social cohesion or conflict, depending on how society perceives and manages them.

How does it work?

Like fingers in the hand, not everyone agrees on everything. Each group of people has its identity and issues. Cross-cutting social differences occur when most people in different groups share a common interest and differ on a few. For example, India is a nation with multiple ethnic groups of people. There are 22 different languages spoken in this country.

In this country, people perceive different types of religious beliefs. Here people with every earning group live side by side peacefully. Even though everyone has some social issue, they overlook it for freedom and democracy. This larger interest keeps the nation united. Here, every group embraces the diversity of other groups and discusses all their social issues in the democratic parliamentary system.

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Cross-cutting social differences are common in modern society, where each group understands their differences and lives peacefully. Here they embrace each other’s diversity and try to solve every social issue with discussion. Cross-cutting social differences makes the country united and pushes forward social progress. Here every community ignore their small differences and works for the greater good.

Advantages of Cross-cutting social differences

Cross-cutting social differences can be spotted in every modern society, where the population is not homogeneous. Here each group of people respects other groups of people’s diversity. As a result, it increases unity and makes the nation strong.

Another advantage of cross-cutting social differences is that they let every group accommodate others and discuss their social issues on a democratic platform. As a result, society progresses faster. The chances of civil war or any large form of conflict get reduced with cross-cutting social differences. Here every group of people lives with each other in harmony.

Disadvantages of Cross-cutting social differences

Cross-cutting social differences discourage individualism. Even though Cross-cutting social differences create unity in society, it ignores various problems of minorities. Many times minor groups aren’t able to express their voice in public.

As a result, these groups create small factions in society and take radical routes in politics. Another problem with this type of society is the slow growth rate of social progress. In this society, new ideas flourish less, and people oppose new ideas. For this reason, any social change takes time.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3117813
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3088437

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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20 thoughts on “What are Cross-Cutting Social Differences? | Definition, Working, Pros vs Cons”

  1. I appreciate the emphasis on the potential drawbacks of cross-cutting social differences. It’s important to consider both sides.

  2. The discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of cross-cutting social differences demonstrates a comprehensive perspective.

  3. The comparison to ‘fingers in the hand’ to illustrate cross-cutting social differences is thought-provoking.


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