Category Archives: Researchers’ corner

The language of oppression

On Canada’s National Aboriginal Day, June 21st, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the name of the day would be changed to National Indigenous People’s Day. I’m so old I remember when Aboriginal/Indigenous people were often referred to as Indians and half-breeds. In those days, people who were offended by such abuse used the term Native.  Continue reading

Time out

I’m taking a leave from my blog for a month or so, to pursue other professional and personal duties and pleasures. In the meantime, some of you might be interested in taking a look at some blog entries that I think are worth reading, but that are buried in the nether recesses of this blog, and an earlier version of it.
“Radar Dogs” remind me that all is not (yet) lost
Take a deep breath, St. Clements, and get a whiff of chaotic development Continue reading

Why the academic world needs blogs

Before I went to graduate school, I spent some three years working for a series of daily newspapers. I was only 22 years old when I started, and I loved the work. Being a newspaper reporter gave me a licence to pick up the phone and ask anyone any question that interested me, something I might otherwise hesitate to do. A colleague commented that journalism was an ideal occupation for shy, curious people.

In those three years, I worked a number of beats: business and labour in Marshalltown, Iowa; education in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and in York, Pennsylvania -– at the late and lamented The Gazette and Daily, reputedly the only left-wing daily in the United States –- city hall and the courthouse.

(The Gazette was well known to journalists across the United States as a pioneer in investigative journalism, a craft that was later immortalized by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffmann in All the President’s Men. When I was there, we didn’t go after the President, but we gave York City Hall, the York Police, and the Pennsylvania Railroad, with its unguarded crossings, a lot of grief. And woe betide the police if someone was charged with resisting arrest, but not charged with anything else.) Continue reading

Time out

I’ll be away until late October and, since this blog is devoted to research-based analysis and commentary, I’ll take a break from posting, because there won’t be any time for research. Meanwhile, you might want to catch up on some blog entries from the past that you might have missed.

Why we love cities, even while we tell ourselves we hate them
What has globalization done to democracy? Continue reading

Case study research: How social science underestimates it and places obstacles in its way

I’m at the Canadian Political Science Association meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, delivering a paper that makes the following argument:

Political case studies have unjustifiably acquired a reputation for being semi-anecdotal investigations of the small details of individual circumstances, research that is incapable of generating significant empirical or theoretical advances in knowledge. It is argued that the case study is, at best, a preliminary step, in that it may generate hypotheses that can later be tested using such “more reliable” methods as standardized questionnaires or statistical data. In the study of politics, however, that sequence of research initiatives may well work better in reverse. Continue reading

Looking for a good summer job?

In a series of previous posts, I’ve made the case that municipal governments are incapable of managing urban growth in a manner the supports city viability and is environmentally sustainable. I argue that the political clout necessary to resist development proposals that are good for particular developers’ bottom line but bad for the city only exists at the regional or national level.

I also presented a proposal for a research project designed to look at what options exist for urban development that supports city viability and sustainability. That research has now been funded by the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada and I’m looking for two students to work full time for 10 weeks this summer to help me get the research underway.

For more information about this job and how to apply for it, check out the links above, and download the job announcement.

If cities can’t regulate urban growth, who can? A research proposal

In both Canada and the United States, we have largely left urban growth issues to local governments, and many local governments have failed to manage them. Many will never succeed because local councils are not, in general, able effectively to resist development interests. Continue reading