The goal of this article is to contribute to the study of the history of Czech sociology by examining the journal Acta Universitatis Carolinae Philosophica et Historica – Studia Sociologica (AUC StS), published by the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University. After almost 50 years of its existence, this less-known periodical can be viewed as documentary evidence on the developments and transformations in a part of Czech (or Czechoslovak) sociology. We account for the journal’s main characteristics and discuss its position and role in Czech sociology. In addition to standard procedures of content analysis, we employ the innovative method of citation network analysis. Accordingly, one of the paper’s important goals is to assess the adequacy of the methods applied for addressing research questions of this kind.
Citation network analysis helps us identify the co-citation structure of periodicals and the influence of individual authors or works on a disciplinary field. We employed it primarily to determine the most frequently cited authors and mutual citations in AUC StS. The data was obtained through transcription of bibliographic references at ends of articles (for more recent volumes) or in footnotes (for older volumes). The dataset contains 2637 authors and 5082 citations. Citation network analysis proved adequate for the purpose, providing comprehensive and intelligible results. It can be applied for comparison with similar studies of other periodicals or publications.
Czechoslovak and Czech sociology as a whole was profoundly influenced and shaped by the political transformations around the year 1968 (Soviet military invasion of Czechoslovakia following a period of political liberalization) and 1989 (end of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia during so-called Velvet Revolution). The inception of AUC StS was a result of a conjuncture in Czech sociology in the 1960s. Our analysis of the periodical confirmed the expected effects of the historic turn in 1989. Considerably more book reviews were published before the Velvet Revolution, whereas the number of full articles increased after 1989. Marx, Engels and Lenin were the most frequently cited international authors before 1989, superseded by Giddens, Beck and Luhmann. “Western” sociology classics (Durkheim, Weber etc.) only began to be frequently cited after the revolution. Among Czech authors, J. Buriánek, M. Petrusek and J. Šubrt were the most frequently cited throughout the history of AUC StS.
A total of 86 individuals (45 men and 41 women) contributed to the 21 issues of AUC StS, mostly Czech sociologists. Given its structure of authors, AUC StS (as opposed to the Czech Sociological Review, for instance) has remained a genuinely Czech periodical, even in the most recent years. Mean age of authors grew from one issue to another until the year 2006, which can be explained by a stable circle of a few active contributors. In contrast, mean age decreased considerably over the past decade. E. Urbánek, J. Sedláček and J. Buriánek were the most productive contributors.
Papers on sociological theory dominate the journal’s structure of topics. After 1989, attention to empirical research grew at the expense of sociological tradition (i.e. particular schools and streams). The trends in article topics exhibit diminishing focus on social structure and stratification, history of Czech and Slovak sociology or general research methodology, on one hand, and growing interest in specialized areas of sociological inquiry, and in particular social transformation and modernization, social deviance and pathology, or environmental problems.
Our comprehensive analysis demonstrates AUC StS as a journal of a relatively stable orientation, in terms of both authors and topics. It reveals some trends that might arguably be ascribed to Czech sociology as a whole, with structure of authors cited clearly shifting from “East” to “West” and an increasing diversity of sources cited. The growing interest in modernization and transformation of Czech society and in empirical research in special areas of social reality can be viewed as another trend that has affected all of Czech sociology over the past quarter century.