Analysing public accountability procedures in contemporary European contexts
International research project supported within the Fifth EC Framework Programme.
This research was intended to analyse, at the European national and transnational levels, the relevance of public accountability procedures for achieving publicly legitimate and sustainable ogvernance of socially complex issues. Seven national teams (United Kingdom, Denmark, Latvia, Germany, Portugal, France and Czech Republic) carried out in-depth empirical analyses - through three case studies - of the role of public accountability in the national contexts in relation to the issues of genetically modified food policy, household waste management, and local/regional transport policy. Having this done, they undertook cross-national and cross-thematic comparisons of the research undertaken. The project was headed by Simon Joss from the Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London (UK). The Czech part was institutionally covered by the Center for Theoretical Study at the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Prague. The Czech national team consisted of: Zdenek Konopásek (head), Tereza Stöckelová, Tereza Vajdová and Lenka Zamykalová; in 2001-2 also Zuzana Kusá (SAV Bratislava, Slovakia)
Techno-logics and socio-logics of making state socialism durable: An actor network theory of state socialism
Individual sociological research project supported by the Research Support Scheme (123/1998), a part of Open Society Fund network.
In this research I attempted to explore social resources of durability of the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. The inquiry was based on a combination of the biographical approach with an actor-network theory, i.e., with the approach originally developped by some contemporary sociologists of sciences (Michel Callon, Bruno Latour, John Law) and designed for explanations of durability of scientific facts. Inspired by the actor-network theory, I treated the problem of state socialism and communists' power in the same way as the above mentioned sociologists of science had treated the problem of science and of the scientific truth. Instead of explaining the life under communism by references to the power of the communists, I directed my effort in the very opposite way: I tried to explain the communists' power by studying the life under state socialism.
The welfare state aesthetics: On the crisis of representation in social security
My PhD research project in sociology.
My PhD thesis was originally following my interest in social policies and my analytical contributions to the Czech social reform. However, as time went on, other motives gained weight as well: the problem of post/modernity, the analysis of institutions and institutionalization, the sociology of science and technology, and, above all, the problem of representation. A revised and extended version of the PhD thesis was published as Estetika welfare state: o krizi reprezentace (nejen) v sociálním zabezpečení [The welfare state aesthetics: On the crisis of representation (not only) in social security] (Praha: GplusG, 1998) - it is in Czech, but a draft of detailed summary in English is available.
Support of the Coordination Council for Minimum Standards in Social Work
PHARE project (GTAF II/WP2/4A), coordinated by the Ministry of labour and social affairs
The aim of this project was to establish a professional body responsible for minimum standards in the field of social work. Within the project I undertook a small research and elaborated an expert study on employers and employees in the social work sector.
SAMISEBE: Collective sociological autobiographies
Collective autobiographical project with participation of Josef Alan, Miroslav Disman (since 1993), Karel Holý, Jiří Kabele (since 1995), Jaroslav Kapr, Eva Stehlíková, Olga Šmídová.
A group research exercise in sociological autobiographies. The project was originally inspired by the preparation of a large-scale multidisciplinary research of the transformation of the social structure in Czechoslovakia that took place in 1991-92. However, it soon took shape of an independent and autonomous research project called SAMISEBE (an awkward translation into English would perhaps be: OURSELVES' SELVES). Within the project, a small group of Czech sociologists had been writing and analysing - step by step and within an interactive cooperative regime - their own autobiographical narratives. On the basis of this common background, each participant had been developing her/his own research topic and her/his own methodology. All the participants were interested, most of all, in various aspects of "ordinary life" under state socialism and after. At the end of 1992, we organized an international workshop on the project. Scholars form Slovakia, United States, Finland, United Kingdom and Hungary participated in the meeting. On the basis of the project, I edited a volume, which exists in both Czech and English versions: Our lives as database (Praha: Charles University Press, 2000) / Otevřená minulost (Praha: Charles University Press, 1999).