KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2011): Je prý třeba změnit ten postoj a ptát se... [The attitude has to be changed and questions asked, he says]. Zdenek Konopasek's blog, February 26, 2011. Available at http://zdenek.konopasek.net/index.php?m=151&i=1871&b=151::::
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2011): Das Denken mit ATLAS.ti sichtbar machen: Computergestützte qualitative Analyse als textuelle Praxis. In: G. Mey & K. Mruck, eds.: Grounded theory reader. 2nd updated and extended edition. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. Pp. 381-403::::
How is a new quality of reading, which we call "sociological understanding", created during the process of qualitative analysis? A methodological (conventional) answer to this question usually speaks of mental processes and conceptual work. This paper suggests a different view—sociological rather than methodological; or more precisely a view inspired by a contemporary sociology of science. It describes qualitative analysis as a set of material practices. Taking grounded theory methodology and the work with the computer programme Atlas.ti as an example, it is argued that thinking is inseparable from doing even in this domain. It is argued that by adopting the suggested perspective we might be better able to speak of otherwise hardly graspable processes of qualitative analysis in more accountable and instructable ways. Further, software packages would be better understood not only as "mere tools" for coding and retrieving, but also as complex virtual environments for embodied and practice-based knowledge making. Finally, grounded theory methodology might appear in a somewhat different light: when described not in terms of methodological or theoretical concepts but rather in terms of what we practically do with the analysed data, it becomes perfectly compatible with the radical constructivist, textualist, or even post-structuralist paradigms of interpretation (from which it has allegedly departed by a long way). (Translated to German and reprinted from Historical Social Research 2007/FQS 2008)
KONOPÁSEK, Z. / PALEČEK (2011): The principle of symmetry from the respondents’ perspective: Possessions, apparitions and mental illnesses in research interviews with clerics. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, , 12 (1): Art. 12, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101129::::
We study how experiences such as hearing the voice of the Lord or having a vision of Virgin Mary are dealt with in psychiatry and catholic pastoral practice. How the status of these phenomena is negotiated by the participants? Under what conditions they become an instance of legitimate religious experience or, alternatively, symptoms of mental illness? We approach the study of these issues “symmetrically” - we do not prefer a priori medical or spiritual explanations. Some time ago, we demonstrated and explained such an approach (which is common, e.g., in contemporary sociology of science), and its relevance for our research, in an analytic paper on the movie “The exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005). The paper discusses a highly ambiguous relationship, pictured in the film, between medical and spiritual interpretation of the story of a young girl who was considered possessed by demons and who died after unsuccessful exorcism (Konopásek & Paleček 2006). Now, the question is: can such a symmetrical approach be of any relevance also for people we are studying? In an attempt to give an answer, we have interviewed four catholic priests on this issue. The priests had been asked to watch the movie on Emily Rose and read our paper on it in preparation for the interview. Based on these discussions (and also on our current research in general), we would like to shed some light on whether and in what ways our specific epistemic perspective coheres with the views and positions of our respondents; and also, how this reflexive research experiment contributed to our own understanding of the role of the symmetry principle in our current research project.
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2010): Co znamená "sociální konstrukce"? [What is the meaning of "social construction"?]. Zdenek Konopasek's blog, 3. 11. 2010. Available at http://zdenek.konopasek.net/index.php?m=151&i=1490&b=151::::
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2010): V čem spočívá pravda náboženské skutečnosti? Sociologický pohled na mariánská zjevení a démonické posedlosti [Where does the religious truth comes from? A sociological view on Marian apparitions and demonic possessions]. Biograf (52-53): 89-101::::
In this paper I summarize the background and results of our three-year research project "Religious realities in the making: Apparitions and possessions as practical and collective accomplishments" (GAČR 403/08/1758). All our analyses emphasise the polymorphic nature and diversity of what we call religious faith. Inspired by theoretical-methodological approaches from contemporary science studies we try to pursue a kind of non-reductionist sociology of religion. As subjects of study we have chosen weird, rather rare and in many respects controversial situations (apparitions and possessions) that allow as to grasp "in action" and cleavage even the long and perfectly sediment reality of religion.
SLANINA, F. / KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2010): Eigenvector localization as a tool to study small communities in online social networks. Advances in Complex Systems, 13 (6): 699–723::::
We present and discuss a mathematical procedure for identification of small "communities" or segments within large bipartite networks. The procedure is based on spectral analysis of the matrix encoding network structure. The principal tool here is localization of eigenvectors of the matrix, by means of which the relevant network segments become visible. We demonstrated our approach by analyzing the data related to product reviewing on Amazon.com. We found several segments, a kind of hybrid communities of densely interlinked reviewers and products, which we were able to meaningfully interpret in terms of the type and thematic categorization of reviewed items. The method provides a complementary approach to other ways of community detection, typically aiming at identification of large network modules.
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2010): Věda, každodenní skutečnost a "přirozený svět" [Science, everyday life and the concept of life-world]. In: B. Velický, K. Trlifajová & P. Kouba, eds.: Spor o přirozený svět [A controversy over the life-world]. Praha: Filosofia. Pp. 173-196::::
In this paper I discuss the concept of life-world from two specific sociological perspectives: from the perspective of contemporary science and technology studies (STS) and from the viewpoint of classical social constructivism. It is explained, first, why STS have only a weak links to and do not develop the Husserlian critique of science (from the perspective of life-world). Second, I try to elucidate why the phenomenologically inspired idea of social construction of reality is, in fact, transcending and abandoning the original notion of the life-world. It is argued that the concept of life-world does not refer to a livable reality, but rather to a highly abstract idea that is not of much help when answering the basic questions of the two sociological fields, i.e., what is the specific nature of scientific work and how scientific facts are produced; and how everyday reality is constructed.
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2009): Co by nás prý na vědě nemělo šokovat...? [What should not shock us about science?]. Zdenek Konopasek's blog, 21. 11. 2009. Available at http://zdenek.konopasek.net/index.php?m=151&i=1215&b=151::::
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2009): Zapomeňte na pouhé transkripty: Atlas.ti, šestá verze [Forget the work with transcripts only: Atlas.ti, the sixth version]. Biograf, (48): 95-113::::
A new version of Atlas.ti, the superior programme for computer assisted qualitative analysis, was released at the very end of February 2009. In this extensive review I discuss mainly two key innovation brought by this sixth version: (1) the support of PDF files; and (2) the possibility to associate and synchronize audio or video recordings with respective textual transcripts. The former of these innovations provides the opportunity to directly use vast amounts of scholarly sources available in PDF for analytical purposes in Atlas.ti. The support of PDF also allows practically any kind of document to be used within Atlas.ti, since anything that can be printed from our computers can be easily converted into PDF, with all the graphics and formatting, by means of so called virtual PDF printers. The latter innovation is important because it offers an opportunity to reshape our habits related to transcritions of recorded data. In fact, now we can produce transcripts that speak. This feature of the new version is related to the possibility of making transcriptions directly from within the programme.
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2008): Making thinking visible with Atlas.ti: Computer assisted qualitative analysis as textual practices. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9 (2): 62 paragraphs, art. 12. Available at http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802124::::
How is a new quality of reading, which we call "sociological understanding", created during the process of qualitative analysis? A methodological (conventional) answer to this question usually speaks of mental processes and conceptual work. This paper suggests a different view—sociological rather than methodological; or more precisely a view inspired by a contemporary sociology of science. It describes qualitative analysis as a set of material practices. Taking grounded theory methodology and the work with the computer programme Atlas.ti as an example, it is argued that thinking is inseparable from doing even in this domain. It is argued that by adopting the suggested perspective we might be better able to speak of otherwise hardly graspable processes of qualitative analysis in more accountable and instructable ways. Further, software packages would be better understood not only as "mere tools" for coding and retrieving, but also as complex virtual environments for embodied and practice-based knowledge making. Finally, grounded theory methodology might appear in a somewhat different light: when described not in terms of methodological or theoretical concepts but rather in terms of what we practically do with the analysed data, it becomes perfectly compatible with the radical constructivist, textualist, or even post-structuralist paradigms of interpretation (from which it has allegedly departed by a long way). (Reprinted from Historical Social Research 2007)
KONOPÁSEK, Z. / STÖCKELOVÁ, T. / ZAMYKALOVÁ, L. (2008): Making pure science and pure politics: On the expertise of bypass and the bypass of expertise. Science, Technology & Human Values, 33 (4): 529-553::::
This paper is based on a case study of a long-term public controversy over the construction of a highway bypass (around Plzen, Czech Republic). Two principal variants of the bypass were proposed. One of them began gradually to appear preferable, increasingly attractive for experts, but remaining only on paper. In the meantime, however, the other variant became more realistic, pushed through mainly by local politicians and actually constructed. We show how purification of science from politics (and vice versa) played a key role in the development and ending of the case. Initial expertisation of the case switched to its sharp politicization, when people got frustrated from protraction and indecisive evidence of accumulated expertise. This turned to be fatal for those who consistently staked everything on "pure facts". We conclude by outlining some general consequences of such a development for both democratic decision making and the political relevance of expertise.
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2008): Co prý znamená dívat se sociologicky: Povzdech na okraj jedné debaty [What it means to engage in sociological reflections? Sighing on the margin of a recent debate]. Biograf, (45): 119-135::::
An image of sociology, as developed during the debate on prof. Ivo Budil's plagiarism, is critically discussed. The focus is on the few contributions that explicitly referred to (and called for) a sociological perspective on plagiarism. I explain misunderstandings regarding social constructivism and disinterested sociological point of view.
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2008): Expertíza a politika životního prostředí: Případ projektu Natura 2000 [Expertise and the politics of environmentalism: The case of Natura 2000]. CTS Research Reports, CTS-08-02. Praha: CTS. Available at http://www.cts.cuni.cz::::
As sociologists interested in the relationships between expert knowledge and policy making we have studied in detail the processes of implementation of European directives on natural habitats, wild fauna and flora (92/43/EEC) nad on conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC) in the Czech republic - i.e., the preparation and implemenation of so called Natura 2000. We have focused on diverse practices of expert mapping of the Czech nature, on how national lists of Sites of Community Importance were produced and on how the preparation of these lists was consulted with the public. We also observed how Natura 2000 was shaped by various actors in various ways, so that it could be connected to various plans, projects and trajectories (beyond the plan of Natura 2000 itself). As a result, a number of compromises were incorporated into the project - compromises which were often regarded as problematic, but which, at the same time, made Natura 2000 an object that could be reasonably shared (and supported) by environmentalists, naturalists, policy makers, activists and scientists from various fields. In comparison to, e.g., France, the implementation of Natura 2000 in the Czech Republic passed through smoothly, without major political controversies and as originally intended, i.e., as an exclusively expert driven project. To explain this we offer some insights into different political cultures in the Czech Republic and Western Europe, including specific contexts of the Czech accession process to the EU and its impact on political culture. Our close study of how the Czech nature was mapped and how so called national lists were established reveals that these processes were not completely apolitical and purely expert-driven. We have described a number of particular interests, political calculations, EU-related concerns, organisational contexts etc. intervening into the seemingly purely scientific methods and viewpoints. However, we have also shown that these non-scientific elements often did not work against the scientific quality of the project, but rather reinforced it. For instance, some administrative interventions strengthened the quality of scientific data - as their unintended by-product. Thus, we now better and more realistically understand what it means when we say that a project is purely expert-driven. It means usually something slightly different than to proceed strictly apolitically, but on the other hand it does not mean that expert perspectives are made secondary or even irrelevant.
WATERTON, C. (2007): Od terénu k představám: Klasifikace přírody a vytváření Evropy [From field to fantasy: Classifying nature, constructing Europe]. Biograf, (43-44): 3-32 - translated by Zdeněk Konopásek::::
This paper sets out some observations on the making, and use, of contemporary classifications of nature in the context of a simultaneous and on-going "making" of Europe. It looks in particular at two classifications, one of British vegetation communities and the other of European "biotopes" (a concept that closely relates to natural or semi-natural "habitats") – respectively, the UK National Vegetation Classification (NVC) and the EU CORINE Biotopes Classification. It investigates aspects of the relationship between these two classifications which has come about through their use in a European conservation policy. The CORINE Biotopes classification, in particular, represents a new ordering of nature in a very active sense: it is a good example of a "working archive", and is intimately tied into policy decisions at many levels in Europe. The paper addresses questions as to how contemporary classifications are being made and used, and whether certain tacit understandings and conceptual frameworks "built in" to them reflect back upon the world at a later stage. It argues that these classifications do not always simply reflect the assumptions and understandings built into them: once in the policy domain, they are not as "reversible" as that. Their categories quickly become unstable, mutating and interacting in sometimes unpredictable ways. The two classifications, through their relationship with policy, have a jointly evolving history. The continual renewal of meaning attached to classes within these classifications appears to reflect outwards rather than inwards – in chorus with the broader social and political context, rather than reflecting the condition of their making. In their evolving forms, they illustrate very well the complex nature of the dynamic between unity and diversity, centre and periphery, that lies at the heart of the European Union.
Translated from WATERTON, C. (2002): From field to fantasy: Classifying nature, constructing Europe. Social Studies of Science, 32 (2): 177-204
KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2007): The language metaphor in sociology - two different trajectories. In: A. Wittwer, E. Kut, V. Pliska & G. Folkers, eds.: Approaching scientific knowledge: Metaphors and models. Zurich: Collegium Helveticum. Pp. 35-42::::
The metaphor of language is an influential sociological metaphor. It is, as Brown would put it, a root metaphor, since it functions as a widespread, often implicit general frame for imagining, observing and understanding social structures and processes. Further, for many sociologists, "social phenomena" are not like language, but they are language. Seeing reality as language, however, can mean very different things for sociologists and can even have conflicting theoretical and methodological consequences. For some, the language metaphor necessarily leads to a significant and fatal reduction: only small parts of the world, (directly related to) texts and linguistic exchanges, are taken as sociologically relevant, while the rest is omitted and put aside. For others, however, the same metaphor, taken seriously and consistently, implies a different move: our understanding of how language operates and what kind of entity it is, extended beyond the realm of the spoken or written world and applied to virtually any phenomena of the empirically observable world. Here, the reality is not reduced to texts, but recognized as textual. By outlining and explaining these two conflicting approaches I would like to emphasize interpretative flexibility of key metaphors in scientific thought.