Perception of the term “public” has undergone a complex historical development. In very simple terms “it gradually turned from the original meaning of public as a social elite consisting of independent, educated and committed citizens to the concept of plural publics, which are often a synonym for all public.” (Rendlová, Lebeda, 2002: 9). According to the Big Dictionary of Sociology the term public is currently understood as “a larger part of the society (or nation, people) involved in the outcomes of economic and social activities with a more general effect, in the solution of a certain social problem, or in social events as such.
From time to time all European countries, including the Czech Republic, experience debates about legitimacy of death penalty. Such debates are not incidental. The most serious crimes – violent crimes including the most serious ones - murders – have naturally always stood in the centre of attention of the media. Every time, when the Czech public is shaken by a brutal murder, a question repeatedly comes forth: Shouldn’t death penalty be restored again? Politicians, lawyers, journalists as well as wide public again and again enter the exciting debate, but the result is known beforehand: death penalty is prohibited by constitution and by international commitments of the Czech Republic.
Since the beginning of 2004 the Centre for Public Opinion Research of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic have cooperated on a research project called “Social and cultural cohesion in a differentiated society.” The project is financially supported by the Ministry of labour and social affairs of the Czech Republic and it is executed by the employees of the Centre for social and economic strategy (CESES), a research department of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University in Prague, and by the employees of the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
The relationship of the Czechs towards beer is not a trivial one. Even though we can ostentatiously simplify it to “beer drinkers’ nation,” “pub culture” and so on, relations between the Czechs, beer and pubs are really far more complex and differentiated. The last issue of the Bulletin focused in detail on the institute of pub in the Czech society. This time we will try to focus on beer and primarily on the phenomenon of Czech beer patriotism.
Even though many sociological texts deal with the issue of values, contemporary sociology has no unified theoretical conception of values. According to Strmiska, Lautman counted 180 various definitions of the notion “value” in 1981, when he tried to identify the perception of values in social sciences [Strmiska 1996: 375]. The notion of values is not only theoretically unanchored. The methodology is not unified either.
Researches of election preferences are probably the most monitored products of agencies for public opinion research. The information, which returns via media back to the public, not only describes social reality, but sometimes also co-creates this reality. Results of the researches as such can affect public attitudes. For this reason, among others, we should understand what information the researches of election preferences provide and how to read them correctly.
The CVVM public opinion polls focus, among other themes, on media. We chose three areas of questions from their continuous research – 1) level of trust in media, television, newspaper and radios, 2) opinions on accuracy and inaccuracy of information provided by specific media, 3) choice of news programmes, frequency of watching news and respondents’ assessment of the news programmes that they follow.
* Three examples of cooperation between qualitative and analytical research. (Lazarsfeld’s research workshop.)
Paul Lazarsfeld is known as an author and a great promoter of analytical methods of research. He is often connected with quantitative methodology – with methods of statistical processing of data, with mathematical modelling. No less important part of his contribution to methodology was his emphasis on cooperation of various approaches within the complex social sciences research.
One example of such cooperation was a research of the Marienthal community of the unemployed – a working class colony near Vienna, Austria - at the time of great economic crisis in the thirties of the twentieth century.
New issue of bulletin Our Society, which has set task to inform society about results of public opinion surveys, has released in December 2005. It brings 8 articles in sections : Topical Issues, In the Context and Theory for Everybody. The bulletin is a follow up to periodical Czech Public Opinion in a European Context and it is a part of the homonymous project. The project is a part of the Programme of Support for Target Research of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.