Social Polarisation in Global Cities: Theory and Evidence by Chris Hamnet

Social Polarisation in Global Cities: Theory and Evidence by Chris Hamnet

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Throughout Gerring’s (2006) description of case selection techniques, the emphasis is set in the methodological structures of each procedure. Each of these techniques relies on certain parameters in which cases look for different means to representativeness. A case study should always be representative of a larger population and this stands a decisive benchmark for its validity as a stand-alone case, either for testing or generating a hypothesis (Gerring, 2006).

The crucial case study however is presented with a more careful insight, since its methodological approach distances from the other techniques. In fact, crucial cases in social sciences, according to Gerring (2006/2007), are problematic to test. Since the nature of a crucial case relies on the deterministic precision of a hypothesis, its applicability to social sciences, where theories always fall prey to a certain degree of ambiguity, must not be taken for granted (2007, p.233). In order to overcome such issue, Gerring reflects on the use of most-likely and least-likely crucial cases, in which the central point relies on assessing the quality of the studied theory and its disconfirmation or confirmation of such, respectably. In summary, the crucial case research design will much depend on the deductive power of the researcher and the quality of the theory under investigation (Ibid, p.235).

This paper will use Chris Hamnet’s article as an example, titled Social Polarisation in Global Cities: Theory and Evidence (1994). His main goal is to discuss Saskia Sassen’s theory of polarisation and its theoretical and empirical validity. Although it is not explicitly stated, the presented case study of the Randstad in the Netherlands, assumes what I could inf...

... middle of paper ...

..., crucial case studies in social sciences are unlikely to be related to a deterministic hypothesis, but are rather used to evaluate the ambiguity of a theory. A “pure” crucial case, that is, a case where a risky hypothesis determines specific causal mechanisms it’s not part of the nature of causal relationships as understood in social sciences. This is the reason why crucial cases must always be treated with scepticism.

Works Cited

• Gerring, J. (2001). Social science methodology: A criterial framework. Cambridge University Press.

• Gerring, J. (2006). Case study research: principles and practices. Cambridge University Press.

• Gerring, J. (2007). Is there a (viable) crucial-case method?. Comparative Political Studies, 40(3), 231-253.

• Hamnett, C. (1994). Social polarisation in global cities: theory and evidence. Urban studies, 31(3), 401-424.

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