Power and politics: conferences, workshops, talks

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21. 11. 2022 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek (with Petr Pokorný): Věda v politice, politika ve vědě; vědecky i politicky vzato [Science in politics, politics in science - scientifically and politically speaking]

Presentation for the CTS closed regular workshop

In Czech only
3. 6. 2022 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Mezi přírodou a kulturou, minulostí a přítomností, detailem a celkem, předpisem a praxí: Regulace stavění v CHKO [Between nature and culture, past and present, detail and whole, regulation and practice: Building regulation in PLA]

Presentation for the 24th workshop of the Biograf journal, Kněžice, June 3-5 2022

In Czech only
10. 1. 2022 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Jiříkovo vidění, Zdendovo tušení: K politickému rozměru „racionálních“ a geniálně jednoduchých řešení [Toward political aspects of "rational" and simple solutions]

Presentation for the CTS closed regular workshop

In Czech only
25. 9. 2021 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek, Jan Konvalinka, Václav Bělohradský a Tereza Stockelová: Does apolitical science exist? - discussion

Discussion of Salon at the Book World Prague 2021, September 25, 3pm

In Czech only
11. 11. 2020 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Antropocén, ožehavá věc [Anthropocene, a delicate thing]

Presentation for the online seminar of the Sociology Dept, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague

In Czech only
18. 8. 2020 ::::

"Bad things" and the politics of being critical - cancelled

Paper intended for the EASST+4S conference, Prague, August 18-21, 2020; after the organizers announced that the conference would take place in a virtual, corona-virus-free space, i.e. completely online, I cancelled my participation

In our project “Vulnerable residents in fragile residences: An inquiry into tensions of residential care” we focus on a double object: people and buildings. More precisely, we study (a) caring of people and (b) maintenance of their residences IN RELATION. There are many reasons for such a focus. I want to discuss one specific motivation related to the politics of critique in STS. How to be effectively critical? How to confront “bad things” and help “good things” happen? To be critical of something, we often try to show it as obviously and objectively stupid, irrational, and absurd. If we eventually associate “bad things” (such as climate change denial, technocracy in politics or resistance toward humanization of residential care) with some rationality, meaningfulness, and relevance, we risk being accused of standing on the wrong side and of unacceptable “relativization”... I believe that this way of being critical is unfortunate, since it underestimates our enemies. It implies that “bad things” are based on weak fundaments. As social scientists we should instead try to support our warnings by showing “bad things” as making relatively good sense in a number of ways, being well-integrated into rather reasonable and routinely accepted arrangements – this is, after all, why they are such a difficult enemy: strong, widespread and persistent. Studying objects in relation, such as in our research, where divergent or even contradictory values are at stake, can be taken as a useful heuristic tool for being critical in this more effective way.
20. 6. 2020 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Latour o antropocénu: složité vztahy mezi intelektuálním a politickým radikalismem [Latour on anthropocene - complicated relationhsips between intellectual and political radicalism]

Presentation for the 57th outdoor workshop of CTS, June 19-21, 2020

In Czech only
5. 12. 2019 ::::

Zelená totalita: Přichází? A poznáme to? [Green totalitarianism: Is it coming? How do we know?]

Participation in a discussion Enviro Meetup, organised by Paralel Polis, Dělnická 43, Praha 7; 18:30-20:00

30. 11. 2018 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Co je translace, sociologicky vzato [What is translation, taken sociologically]

Presentation for the conference of Czech Sociological Association, Hradec Králové, November 28-30. 2018

In Czech only
17. 3. 2016 ::::

Debate on approaches to research on normalisation

Discussion meeeting organised by The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, with participation of Petr Bílek (FFUK), Irena Reifová (FSV UK) and others. Praha, FF UK, Náměstní Jana Palacha 2, 17.30, room 201

11. 12. 2014 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: Ztraceno v překladu: nové demokratické způsoby na postupu [Lost in translation: Spreading the new democratic procedures]

Presentation for Thursday seminars of CTS, Husova 4, Praha 1, 3rd floor (the seminar room)

(only in Czech)
10. 10. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Jak najít bezpečné místo pro jaderný odpad a neotrávit přitom demokracii: příspěvek ke studiu socio-technické komplexity [How to find a safe space for highly radioactive nuclear waste without poisoning democracy: A comment toward the study of socio-technical complexity]

Presentation for the 4S conference in San Diego (USA, California), October 9-12, 2013

Technology transfer is intricate business with uncertain results. Our paper takes this well-known STS lesson as a starting point for a study in public deliberation. We will critically discuss the story of how a (social) technology for organizing public dialogues was transferred to the Czech Republic. This technology, called RISCOM, originally appeared during public debates about geological repository for high-level nuclear waste in Sweden. After some time it entered the international arena: under the auspices of European Commission and within several European projects it was proposed as something that would facilitate – and democratize – the processes of siting geological repositories. As such it is being implemented in several East European countries and in the Czech Republic in particular. On the one hand, RISCOM served well the Czech situation in that it helped to bring all the main actors to a discussion table after previous negotiations had completely crashed. On the other hand, it seems that RISCOM substantially failed from a broader perspective. Our study shows that it “succeeded” only at the cost of losing much of its specific original characteristics. As such, it became associated with only too general appeals to dialogue, the attractiveness of which lived but shortly. RISCOM also contributed to the increasing focus on dialogue per se, which ultimately lead to frustration and impatience on both sides. This recently resulted in the shift towards more authoritative decision making and another crisis of mutual trust. All in all, this import of democratic technology turned out to be somewhat counterproductive.
13. 6. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Jak najít bezpečné místo pro jaderný odpad a neotrávit přitom demokracii: příspěvek ke studiu socio-technické komplexity [How to find a safe space for highly radioactive nuclear waste without poisoning democracy: A comment toward the study of socio-technical complexity]

Presentation for Thursday seminars of CTS, Husova 4, Praha 1, 3rd floor (the seminar room)

(only in Czech)
9. 6. 2013 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek & Karel Svačina: Vyjednávání místa pro úložiště v Čechách: Jak importovaná demokratická metodika může přispět k rozvratu snah o nesilové řešení (Hoješín u Seče)

Presentation for the 15th conference of Biograf, June 7-9 2013, Hoješín near Seč (Chrudim)

25. 10. 2012 ::::

Zdeněk Konopásek: What is meant by saying that a controversy is socio-technical? Against simplified views of how to pursue democracy in technological societies (Praha)

Presentation at the international workshop Experts and the public in decision-making processes, Praha, October 25 2012

During last several decades, science and technology studies (STS) have had developed a convincing view, which challenges the idea of something purely technical as well as the idea of science external to what we call society or politics. Instead, STS authors write about complex socio-technical controversies that are articulated within a kind of hybrid forums, i.e., assemblies consisting of various elements and mixing together the lay and the expert, science and politics, nature and culture. This view has had some impact on the official EU and national policies and ideologies aiming at “democratization of expertise” (Liberatore 2001), “technical democracy” (Callon et al. 2009), or “robust and sustainable knowledge society” (Felt & Wynne 2007). The STS notion of the socio-technical is taken as a support for various forms of public and stakeholder involvement in what traditionally used to be a matter of expert assessment and decision making. Especially after the painful European experience with GMO it has become commonplace that a “social (ethical, political, cultural) dimension” is taken more seriously. Formally organized public consultations and dialogues are taken as prevention against possible social conflicts. I want to argue, however, that a number of shortcomings occurred during this translation of STS lessons into the language and procedures of practical politics. Based on my recent experience with the EU project on socio-technical challenges for implementing geological disposal of nuclear waste I will clarify some typical misunderstandings about the STS perspective. Contrary to what is too often supposed, talking about an issue as socio-technical (in the STS sense of the term) does not simply mean that certain political aspects are debated besides/before/after the technical ones. Rather, it implies approaching all possible aspects as both social and technical. To take the notion of socio-technical seriously thus means debating the social and the technical together, at the same time and as a single thing. Such an approach, I will also insist, can hardly be achieved/embodied by means of inviting selected activists (representing “the social”) and engineers (representing “the technical”) to spend time together exchanging standpoints and perspectives in a “fair dialogue”. When meetings with similar design are organized (and they often are), it not only deviates from what can reasonably be argued from within STS, but it also makes the idea of democratic governance in the age of science and technology empty and perverted.

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KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2023 - in press): Globální uhlíková daň ladem ležící: K politickému rozměru tzv. nepolitických řešení [A Global Carbon Tax Idling: Towards the Political Dimension of So-Called Non-Political Solutions]. Vesmír, 102


NELSON, Nicole C. / TIMMERMANS, Stefan / WARWICK, Andrew / KONOPÁSEK, Zdeněk / VANCE, Russell E / KUO, Wen-Hua (2023): On first reading Bruno Latour. Social Studies of Science, 53 (2): 174-179


KONOPÁSEK, Z. / MARŠÁLEK, J. (2023): Se sociology v zádech: laboratoře, texty, teorie [Sociologists in the scientists' back: Laboratories, texts, theories]. Československý časopis pro fyziku, 73 (2): 102-106

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Osobní stránky Zdeňka Konopáska - http://zdenek.konopasek.net, technická realizace Jakub Konopásek ©