Sociological publications

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KONOPÁSEK, Z. / STÖCKELOVÁ, T. / VAJDOVÁ, T. / ZAMYKALOVÁ, L. (2004): Environmental controversies in technical democracy: Three case studies. CTS Research Reports, CTS-04-04. Praha: CTS. Available at http://www.cts.cuni.cz/

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In this research report we present a collection of three case studies that have been undertaken within our work on the research project "Analysing public accountability procedures in contemporary European contexts". The overall aim of the project was to study opportunities and limits of democracy in societies in which expert knowledge becomes crucial for almost any decision-making and socio-technical networks that shape our daily lives are being openly and widely contested in the public arena. Especially in cases where science and technology are involved and where technicalities of different sorts and specialised knowledge penetrate political agenda, i.e., on the borderline of science and politics, the principles of open, friendly, inclusive and transparent politics (as well as the classical principles of disinterested and independent expertise) get into troubles. That is why we decided, in our research, to confront the principle of public accountability with the flesh-and-blood reality of the following socio-technical controversies, elaborated as in-depth case studies: (1) The controversy over the building and operation of the household waste incinerator in Praha-Malesice; (2) The public conflicts concerning the highway by-pass around the city of Plzeň; (3) Current policies and controversies related to the introduction of GMO into the Czech legal, social, economic and political environment.

MOL, A. / LAW, J. (2003): Vtělené jednání, zjednávaná těla: příklad hypoglykémie [Embodied action, enacted bodies: The example of hypoglycaemia]. Biograf, (31): 5-25

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We all know that we have and are our bodies. But might it be possible to leave this common place? In the present article we try to do this by attending to the way we do our bodies. The site where we look for such action is that of handling the hypoglycaemias that sometimes happen to people with diabetes. In this site it appears that the body, active in measuring, feeling and countering hypoglycaemias is not a bounded whole: its boundaries leak. Bits and pieces of the outside get incorporated within the active body; while the centre of some bodily activities is beyond the skin. The body thus enacted is not self-evidently coherent either. There are tensions between the body's organs; between the control under which we put our bodies and the erratic character of their behaviour; and between the various needs and desires single bodies somehow try to combine. Thus to say that a body is a whole, or so we conclude, skips over a lot of work. One does not hang together as a matter of course: keeping oneself together is something the embodied person needs to do. The person who fails to do so dies.

MOL, A. / LAW, J. (2004): Embodied action, enacted bodies: The example of hypoglycaemia. Body & Society, 10 (2-3): 43-62

LATOUR, B. (2002): Když věci vracejí úder: Co mohou sociálním vědám přinést "vědní studia" [When things strike back: A possible contribution of "science studies" to the social sciences]. Biograf, (29): 3-20 - translated by Zdeněk Konopásek

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The contribution of the field of science and technology studies (STS) to mainstream sociology has so far been slim because of a misunderstanding about what it means to provide a social explanation of a piece of science or of an artefact. The type of explanation possible for religion, art or popular culture no longer works in the case of hard science or technology. This does not mean, it is argued, that science and technology escapes sociological explanation, but that a deep redescription of what is a social explanation is in order. Once this misunderstanding has been clarified, it becomes interesting to measure up the challenge raised by STS to the usual epistemologies social sciences believed necessary for their undertakings. The social sciences imitate the natural sciences in a way that render them unable to profit from the type of objectivity found in the natural sciences. It is argued that by following the STS lead, social sciences may start to imitate the natural sciences in a very different fashion. Once the meanings of "social" and of "science" are reconfigured, the definition of what a "social science" is and what it can do in the political arena is considered. Again it is not by imitating the philosophers of science's ideas of what is a natural science that sociology can be made politically relevant.

LATOUR, B. (2000): When things strike back: A possible contribution of "science studies" to the social sciences. The British Journal of Sociology, 51 (1): 107-123

KONOPÁSEK, Z. / KUSÁ, Z. / STOCKELOVÁ, T. / VAJDOVÁ, Z. / ZAMYKALOVÁ (2002): Czech Republic - a national profile. Research report of the Public Accountability European Research Project, CT2001-00076. Praha. Available at http://zdenek.konopasek.net/docs/WP1_Czech.pdf

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KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2002): Dejme smysl volební neúčasti [Let us make electoral non-participation more useful]. MF Dnes. June 7, p. A/9

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LATOUR, B. (2001): Nepřehlédněme žížalu Pontoscoles corethrurus [Let’s us not overlook the earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus]. Vesmír, 80 (7): 383-85 - translated by Zdeněk Konopásek and David Storch

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Translation of: LATOUR, B. (undated): Let’s us not overlook the earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus. Manuscript, available at http://bruno.latour.fr

FINE, G.A. (2001): Jak se dělá příroda a ochočuje divočina: Problém "vysbírávání" lesů v houbařské kultuře [Naturework and the taming of the wild: The problem of "overpick" in the culture of mushroomers]. Biograf, (24): 29-56 - translated by Zdeněk Konopásek

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Although nature often has been treated as an unproblematic reality, I argue for treating it as a contested concept, suggesting that "nature" is a cultural construction. Drawing on interactionist and ecological theory, I claim that the creation of social problems involving the environment is inevitably grounded in cultural choices. Through a set of ideological structures (a protectionist vision, an organic vision, and a humanistic vision), social actors develop templates for understanding the proper relationship between humans and nature. Based on an ethnography of mushroom collecting, I contend that these models lead us to experience nature through cultural eyes - wishing to be away from civilization, to be at one with nature, and to engage in the pragmatic use of nature for personal ends. Conflicting stances toward nature account for debate over the moral acceptability of the commercial collection of mushrooms and the "problem" of overpick. Templates of human-environmental interaction, leading to models for experiencing the wild, provide the basis for understanding the conditions under which environmental change is defined as a social problem.

FINE, G.A. (1997): Naturework and the taming of the wild: The problem of "overpick" in the culture of mushroomers. Social Problems, 44 (1): 68-88

ASHMORE, M. / REED, D. (2001): Nevinnost a nostalgie v konverzační analýze: dynamické vztahy mezi nahrávkou a jejím přepisem [Innocence and nostalgia in conversation analysis: The dynamic relations of tape and transcript]. Biograf, (25): 3-23 - translated by Lenka Buštíková, Zdeněk Konopásek a Ivan Vodochodský

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This paper attempts an analysis of some of the methodological practices of Conversation Analysis (CA); in particular, tape recording and transcription. The paper starts from the observation that, in the CA literature, these practices, and the analytic objects they create (the tape and the transcript), are accorded different treatment: simply put, for CA the tape is a "realist" object, while the transcript is a "constructivist" one. The significance of this difference is explored through an analysis of the dynamics of CA practice. We argue that the "constructivist transcript" is premised on an understanding of CA as predominantly concerned with maximising its "analytic utility": a concern of one distinct temporal stage of CA work: that of the "innocent" apprehension of objects in the "first time through". The "realist tape", in contrast, is based on a different aspect of the work of CA: its quest for greater "evidential utility", achieved by the "nostalgic" revisiting of previously produced objects for purposes of checking them against each other; work done in the "next time through". We further argue that both the ontology and the epistemology of CA[a]s objects are changed in any next time encounter. We conclude with a cautionary speculation on the currently-projected, transcript-free, digital future of CA.

ASHMORE, M. / REED, D. (2000): Innocence and nostalgia in conversation analysis: The dynamic relations of tape and transcript. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(3): 45 paragraphs., art. 3. Available at http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs000335

KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2001): O politice nepolitičnosti (ve stopách Bruno Latoura) [On the politics of non-politics - A Bruno Latour's view]. Vesmír, 80 (7): 386-389

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BITRICH, T. / KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2001): Transcriber - pohodlnější přepisování, a možná i něco navíc [Transcriber: Easier transcribing and even more]. Biograf, (24): 125-146 (available online at http://www.biograf.org/clanky/clanek.php?clanek=v2412)

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KONOPÁSEK, Z. / KUSÁ, Z. (2000): Political screenings as trials of strength: Methodological consequences of the relativist perspective in oral history research. In: D. Koleva, ed.: Talking history. Sofia: LIK. Pp. 63-81

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KONOPÁSEK, Z. / KUSÁ, Z. (2000): Re-use of life stories in an ethnomethodological research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1 (3): 42 paragraphs, art. 24. Available at http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0003248

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In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the age of life history archives with a wider access for the social scientists is only coming. However, secondary analysis of qualitative data is not limited to documents that are stored in public archives. It happens quite often that researchers make use of an interview transcript, or a part of it, which has originally been gathered for a different occasion. Thus, they use these data for studying new topics that are sometimes far from the original research questions and objectives. In this paper we discuss some methodological problems arising from such practice. We show that, on one hand, the ethnomethodological perspective is especially demanding on the quality and the pinpoint accuracy of transcripts and the descriptions of the interviews by which the narratives were elicited (field memos). On the other hand, however, the ethnomethodological perspective orients scholars to formulate their research objectives according to what the data itself offers. The methodological problems related to the re-use of data can hardly be resolved in advance and on a general level.

KONOPÁSEK, Z. / ANDREWS, M. (2000): A cautious ethnography of socialism: Autobiographical narrative in the Czech Republic. In: M. Andrews, S. D. Sclater, C. Squire & A. Treacher, eds.: Lines of narrative: Psychosocial perspectives. London & New York: Routledge. Pp. 92-103::::

 

KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2000): When science and the state are less powerful than one might expect. Imprints, 4 (3): 260-269

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Review of: SCOTT, J. C. (1998): Seeing like a state: How certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. New Haven & London: Yale University Press

KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2000): Docela nevirtuální starosti s virtuální výukou [Quite non-virtual troubles with virtual teaching]. ComputerWorld, 11 (17): 11-12

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