As the dominant empirical trend in the historic evolution of modern society, differentiation refers to the process of progressive separation and specialization of roles, institutional spheres and associations in the development of political systems.It includes such universals as social stratification and the separation of occupational roles from kinship and domestic life, the separation of an integrated system of universalistic legal norms from religion, the separation of religion and ideology and differentiation between administrative structure and public political competition. It implies greater functional specialization, structural complexity and interdependence and heightened effectiveness of political organization in both administrative and political spheres.
The second is the notion of equality as the central ethos and ethical imperative pervading the operative ideals of all aspects of modern life. Equality is the ethos of modernity; the quest for it and its realization are at the core of the politics of modernization. It includes the notion of universal adult citizenship, the prevalence of universalistic legal norms in the government's relation with the citizenry and the predominance of achievement criteria in recruitment and allocation to political and administrative roles. Even though these attributes of equality are only imperfectly realized in the modern politics, they continue to operate as the central standards and imperatives by which modernization is measured and political legitimacy established. Popular participation or involvement in the political system is a central theme in most definitions of political modernization.
The third characteristic is that of capacity as the constantly increasing adaptive and creative potentialities possessed by man for the manipulation of his environment. The acquisition of enhanced political administrative capacity is the third major feature of political modernization. It is characterized by an increase in scope of polity functions, in the scale of the political community, in the efficacy of the implementation of political and administrative decisions in the penetrative power of central governmental institutions and in the comprehensiveness of the aggregation of interests by political associations. The political modernization process can be viewed as an interminable interplay among the process of differentiation, the imperatives and realizations of equality and the integrative, adaptive and creative capacity of a political system. Political modernization is the progressive acquisition of a consciously sought and qualitatively new and enhanced, political capacity as manifested in the effective institutionalization of new patterns of integration and penetration regulating and containing the tensions and conflicts produced by the processes of differentiation and of new patterns of participation and resource distribution adequately responsive to the demands generated by the imperatives of equality and the continuous flexibility to set and achieve new goals.