Posted: February 13th, 2023
This explanation has been used to explain pay gaps between men and women for example; some have argued that these gaps exist mainly because of choices made by individual men and women about which types of jobs they pursue, where they live (which affects job opportunities), how many hours they work each week etc., instead of attributing them exclusively to gender-based discrimination or lack of access to resources. It also explains why some people become wealthy despite coming from disadvantaged backgrounds – perhaps due to certain personality traits or risk-taking behaviors not necessarily tied directly to background.
The heterogeneity explanation is an important part of understanding social stratification because it offers a more nuanced view than structural explanations do – one that takes into account both internal individual factors and external systemic ones. It can help us understand how racial/ethnic minorities experience economic disadvantage while also recognizing what advantages individuals might have available because of their personal attributes/circumstances (e.g., entrepreneurial skills). At the same time however, there may be limitations when using this framework since its focus on individual difference can lead researchers away from examining larger structural issues related poverty like education funding or economic policies which ultimately shape access to opportunity regardless of an individual’s personal qualities or circumstances.
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