I am learning how to make beef/pork stew. Every recipe I see says to use a Dutch oven, that will be placed inside the oven. Couldnt stew be made just as well with a regular stainless steel pot that I simmer on top of the oven range?
It can. There's nothing wrong with braising or stewing with a stainless steel pot. Just know that if you brown your meat before stewing it, it will cook faster in a stainless steel pot than in a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot, because cast iron retains heat well and conducts it evenly. So be careful not to over-brown your meaty bits.
Sometimes, braising on the stovetop is desirable, especially if you want to further reduce your liquid. When we cook in our commercial kitchen, half the time we braise in the oven with our enamel-ware, the other half we do in a stainless steel stockpot on the stove.