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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. (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. (2007): Divné řeči okolo nemravnosti [Strange statements about an immorality]. Lidové noviny, 29. 6. 2007. Temporarily available at Lidovky.cz


In this article I discuss the plagiary case of Ivo Budil, vice-rector of Western Bohemian University in Plzen. I emphasise that the most disturbing thing is not what Budil reportedly did in the past (using repeatedly entire paragraphs of texts from other books without acknowledgement or proper referencing), but how his academic institution reacts to the present accusation. I also explain why it is nonsensical to reject the accusation on the basis of the claim that the initial suspicion was raised by people who had unfinished personal business with Budil.

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.

KONOPÁSEK, Z. / KUSÁ, Z. (2006): Political screenings as trials of strength: Making the communist power/lessness real. Human Studies, 29 (3): 341-362


In this paper we discuss the problem of communist power in so called totalitarian regimes. Inspired by strategies of explanation in contemporary science studies and by the ethnomethodological conception of social order, we suggest that the power of communists is not to be taken as an unproblematic source of explanation; rather, we take this power as something that is itself in need of being explained. We study personal narratives on political screenings that took place in Czechoslovakia in 1970 and analyze how the power of communists obtained its strength from ordinary and “unremarkable” interactions between participants. The screenings are interpreted, in the terms of Bruno Latour, as “trials of strength.” We show that it was crucial for all the participants that associations, translations or mobilizations involved in making the regime real, remained partial and multiple, and not exclusive and “total” as is often assumed within dominant discourses on totalitarianism.

DAVID, G. (2005): Žertování o cenách v arabských koloniálech: Jak mohou citlivá témata proměňovat mezi-skupinové vztahy [Price humor in Arab-owned convenience stores: Using potentially sensitive topics to transform intergroup relations]. Biograf, (36): 25-54 - translated by Zdeněk Konopásek


Tensions between small immigrant-owned stores and their African-American customers are frequently cited as a major problem in large urban cities in the United States. Whereas most research has focused on the problematic nature of this relationship, the research reported in this paper attempts to focus on the positive. Rather than being plagued by tensions and problematic encounters, this paper asserts that interactions in small "convenience stores" are largely unproblematic. This paper examines the occurrence of unproblematic cross-cultural encounters as a collaborative effort between customer and worker. Specifically, this paper demonstrates how humor plays an important role in the formation of positive relationships through the analysis of "price humor". While high prices have been cited as a source of tension, this paper shows how sensitive topics, such as price, can be used by interactants to build rapport across the counter.

KONOPÁSEK, Z. (2005): Nesnáze s etnometodologií [The troubles with ethnomethodology]. Biograf, (38): 85-109



PREDA, A. (2004): Finanční vědění, dokumenty a struktury finančních činností [Financial knowledge, documents, and the structures of financial activities]. Biograf, (33): 3-29 - translated by Zdeněk Konopásek and Jiřina Zachová


Starting from participant observation and interviews conducted in several European banks, the article examines how financial knowledge is constituted in the process of producing documents like research reports, analyses, and newsletters. The core argument is that documents act as organizational devices, with the help of which relationships are created, maintained, and managed across various contexts. In this perspective, the production of financial reports, analyses, and newsletters creates (1) knowledge-based networks of social relationships in which financial action is embedded and (2) stable temporal structures, thus ensuring the continuity of financial activities. On these grounds, the author argues here that knowledge-generating processes should be taken into account as an essential dimension of the structural embeddedness of financial action. 

Translated from PREDA, A. (2002): Financial knowledge, documents, and the structures of financial activities. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 31 (4): 207-239

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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

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