Science, technology & society: projects

2019-2021 ::::

Vulnerable residents in fragile residences: An inquiry into tensions of residential care

Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (19-07724S): Zdeněk Konopásek - grant holder; Radek Carboch, Dana Hradcová and Michal Synek - research collaborators.

The proposed research focuses on a specific tension in residential care for people identified as disabled: the tension between care for the residents, enabling them to live their lives as "normally" as possible, and care for the residences, safeguarding their economic and "cultural" worth. In the Czech Republic, the residential institutions are often housed in former castles, monasteries or historical villas, which are similarly out-of-shape, fragile and unattached as their inhabitants. And although care for people and maintenance of things might seem to be two dcompletely different and unrelated activities, they go hand-in-hand and cannot be separated. Our research will contribute to the recent turn of social sciences towards interest in materialities and ethical values of caring. We will analyze a single field of practice as framed by several diverging logics and sets of values, paying attention to how this multiplicity is managed. We also hope that our research will help to improve living and working conditions in residential care facilities.

2011-2014 ::::

International) socio-technical challenges for implementing geological disposal

An international and transdisciplinary research project supported within the EC 7th framework program (FP7-Fission-2010, 269906).

Involved researchers come from Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, France, Hungary, Spain, Finland, Slovenia and Czech Republic. The project aims at identifying the main socio-political challenges for implementing geological disposal of radioactive waste and their interplay with technical challenges. It will furthermore provide the IGD-TP with concrete suggestions on how to address these entangled socio-technical challenges.

2005-2010 ::::

Theoretical research of complex phenomena in physics, biology and humanities

Research framework programme of the Center for Theoretical Study (Charles University in Prague and Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) and Dept. of philosophy and history of natural sciences, Faculty of Sciences (Charles University in Prague), headed by David Storch.

The research framework programme gathers collaborators from various disciplines: physics (Roman Kotecký, Bedřich Velický, František Slanina); mathematics (Petr Kůrka, Kateřina Trlifajová, Bohuslav Balcar); macro-ecology (David Storch, Arnošt L. Šizling); biology (Anton Markoš, Karel Kleisner); sociology of science (Zdeněk Konopásek, Jan Paleček); and philosophy (Ivan M. Havel, Zdeněk Kratochvíl).

2008-2010 ::::

Religious realities in the making: Apparitions and possessions as practical and collective accomplishments

Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (403/08/1758): Zdeněk Konopásek - grant holder; Jan Paleček - research collaborator.

In this qualitative sociological research we will study how (mainly catholic) pastoral practice treats spiritual experiences of apparition or demonic possession. E.g., how it happens – by practical means of religious life and devoutness – that a vision is accepted as a kind of apparition? Or, quite often, that it is suppressed, privatized and turned into a psychical effect such as delusion? What qualities of such a spiritual experience are regarded as relevant? What rules, norms and imaginaries are mobilized at such occasions? How are these experiences made accountable and collectively shareable? How they are disputed, evaluated, and doubted? Or, eventually, affirmed and appreciated as religious realities? In fact, we intend to carry out an in-depth study of phenomena that are so unbelievable that their acceptance is always (more or less) in risk of being classified in terms of psychopathology or mental illness, but that are (precisely as unbelievable, super-natural and unexplainable by scientific means) key and carefully defined elements of widely accepted religious belief.

2005-2007 ::::

Science and governance

Work in the expert group of the European Commission

The expert group on "Science and governance" was invited to perform the following tasks: (1) Analyse the uneasiness which is pervading the relations between science, civil society and policy-making. (2) Analyse the strengths and limits of current solutions to this uneasiness. (3) Suggest appropriate conceptual approaches which frame the interactions between science, society and policy-making. (4) Formulate recommendations for more effective science-related governance. The group was headed by Brian Wynne and Ulrike Felt; among its members were, e.g.: Michel Callon, Sheila Jasanoff, Pierre-Benoit Joly, Stefan May, Arie Rip and Andy Stirling. The following report was published as the output of more than two-years long collective work: FELT, U. / WYNNE, B. (2007): Science and governance: Taking European knowledge society seriously. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. 95 s.

2006-2007 ::::

Spiritual and religious experiences in psychiatry: The construction of mental pathology

Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Jan Paleček - grant holder, Zdeněk Konopásek - research collaborator.

In the proposed two-years research studied how psychiatry encounters the phenomena of hearing voices or having apparitions, i.e., quasi/spiritual and quasi/religious experiences. Using qualitative data from interviews and ethnographical observations in psychiatric facilities, we focused on individual illness trajectories, encounters of patients with psychiatric professionals and practical institutional and material arrangements of the treatment. By revealing how religiosity and mental disease are jointly and practically performed by means of contemporary psychiatry, in our case studies on mental patients we intended to better understand how the spiritual and religious experiences of mental patients are translated into the psychiatric language, what are medical, social and political consequences of these processes and what religiosity, spirituality and mental illness is. We hoped to contribute, by our research, to cultivation of contemporary and future reforms of psychiatry.

2006-2007 ::::

Expertise and environmental politics: The case of Natura 2000

Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agendy of the Czech Republic (403/06/0436); Zdeněk Konopásek - grant holder; Jan Paleček - research collaborator.

In this two-year project we suggested to study the preparation and implementation of the European environmental project NATURA 2000. Inspired by numerous sociological investigations abroad, we focused upon the complex and ambivalent relationships between expertise and democratic decision-making. We made use of mostly qualitative approaches (although not exclusively) to analyze various documents and research interviews. In the resulting detailed case study we paid special attention to how particular social actors continuously “translate” the issue of planned nature reserves into scientific argumentation or, on the other hand, into a political matter. What are the consequences of these translations for the project itself? By answering these questions we perhaps contributed to better understanding of expert/political culture in the Czech Republic (in relation to contemporary European trends).

2001-2004 ::::

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)

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Latest publications/recordings

KONOPÁSEK, Z. (????): Antropocén: Více než jeden, méně než dva [Anthropocene: More than one, less than many]. In: P. Pokorný & D. Storch, eds: Antropocén. (edited book in preparation)

book chapter

KONOPÁSEK, Z. / SONERYD, L. / SVAČINA, K. (2018): Lost in translation: Czech dialogues by Swedish design. Science & Technology Studies, 31 (3): 5-23

Scientific paper

BARTLOVÁ, M. / BÍLEK, P. / KONOPÁSEK, Z. / REIFOVÁ, I. (2017): Diskuze o interdiciplinárních přístupech k normalizaci [Discussion on interdisciplinary approaches toward normalization]. In: K. Činátl, J. Mervart & J. Najbert, eds: Podoby česko-slovenské normalizace: Dějiny v diskusi [Forms of Czech-Slovak normalization: History debated]. Praha: ÚSTR/NLN. Pp. 81-101

book chapter
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