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Political Science
Rachael Gibson

Pol306 July 30 Lecture Lecture 7 and 8: Canadian cities in comparative perspective + Community Power and Urban Regimes -The logic of comparison:  Most observations in academic research (or in real life) imply some sort of comparison - e.g., big small, short-tall  Without a comparative framework, we cannot tell this  Single case studies have their own value, but it is impossible to tell whether the findings from such a case study are unique or common without comparative context.  Consistency in conceptualization is needed in order to compare and integrate findings  A common language of measurement is needed  Four pitfalls in comparison (Sartori): o Parochialism  Refers to tendency of comparative scholars to continually invent new terms or adapt the usage of existing terms in order to suit their own research purposes.  This gets in the way of efforts to aggregate research and test/refine existing theories  Example: casual usage of the term “urban regime” to describe any type of private-public partnership at the local level; suggestion that “regime change is when there is election of a new mayor o Misclassification  When important difference are ignored by the researcher and unlike phenomena are clustered together  Industrial “cluster” refers to a localized industry configuration, such as a local concentration of pharmaceutical firms and their supporting infrastructure (e.g., R&D facilities, universities)  Example: use of the term “cluster” to refer to national bundles of industries; use of term “regime” to refer to any political system. o Degreeism  Refers to the abuse of continua to represent all difference as merely quantitative (a matter of degree), rather than qualitative different  Example: statement that democracy exists in many countries “to a certain degree” vs. developing a specific set of criteria for democracy and distinguishing between those countries that meet the criteria and those that do not. o Concept stretching  Has to do with removing aspects of the original meaning of the concept so that it can accommodate more cases  Development a broader umbrella under which a growing number of variable can fit  Concept eventually becomes meaningless if it can be applied to almost anything  Example: the term “regime” used to refer to a coalition that does not include actors from the private sector – a “bureaucratic regime” -Core elements of a comparative framework:  Based on a theory/model, which provides some statement on what causes variation in the DV (e.g., structure of the electoral system influences voter turnout)  These causal models translate theory into variable which are linked to the empirical cases (e.g., ward vs. “at large” systems. -Selecting cases  Most similar system design o Selects cases as similar as possible in most independent aspect but varies on the DV o Allows us to control for large number of variables o Puts us in a good position to uncover a causal relationship between two variable o The difference in the DV caused by different values on one of the IV’s -the promise of comparison in Urban Politics research  The “most similar systems” designs is easier to apply at urban/municipal level than the national level  Embeddedness of cities in came national institutional context allows us to control for national policies/ national political culture factors  There are many more cites than countries in the world - a greater universe available for case selection. -Success of local political power  Interest groups and other sources of local political power interact with municipal officials to shape policy outcomes  Three important bodies of theory have been developed to explain these sources of local political power and influence o Community power studies  Example: Dahls article o Public choice model o Urban regime theory  Leading proponent, Clarence Stone – Regime politics (1989)  Study of Atlanta over the period 1946-88 o Atlanta’s predominately white business elite worked closely with the city’s predominantly black local government leadership for decades in an informal bi-racial governing coalition. o The coalition successfully pursued a shared agenda of sustained economic growth + gradual dismantling of the Jim Crow system o Regime has now collapsed, but urban regime idea has become dominate theory in urban politics o Demonstrated how local politics matters despite limited resources and fragmentation of power  Urban regime theory stresses coalition-building as a key part of the governing process  Unlike pluralist perspectives (Dahl), stems from a political economy perspective  Views power as fragmented due to the division of labour between market and state  What is an “urban regime” o Stone defines as urban regime as “the informal arrangements by which public bodies and private interest function together in order to be able to make and carry out governing decisions” o Builds on idea that formal structures of local government are inadequate on their own to mobilize and coordinate the resources needed to produce a “capacity to govern” o Individual actors may have private agendas, but coming together involves opportunities and responsibilities to act which are greater than the individual interests/goals.  Urban regimes consist of three related parts: 1) capacity, 2) a set of
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