Journal Our Society Archive
On 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic became a fully-fledged member of the European Union. At the same time, another 9 states made the same step and the European Union enlarged to the current 25 member states. At present, the European integration process is considered for further continuation – Bulgaria and Romania already signed the accession treaty. Citizens decided in a referendum on the accession of our country.
This year sixty years have passed since the end of the Second World War and since the liberation of our country from German occupation. In connection with this anniversary, number of events, articles, television and radio programmes commemorated and discussed the war events, key military operations, antifascist movement, etc. How does the Czech public see this difficult period of history (which so significantly affected, apart from other things, the development of the second half of the 20th century in our country and elsewhere) six decades later? What do people know about it? The results of a survey executed by the Centre of Public Opinion Research (CVVM) of the Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in November 2004 within a regular continuous survey, which included questions dealing with the Second World War and the Czechoslovak antifascist movement, can give us at least a partial answer.
As a consequence of historic and social factors, ethnic minorities are represented in the Czech Republic. In democratic countries, all minorities must enjoy identical rights and the possibility to develop their own cultural identity as majority society. Identifying ethnic structure is necessary in order to map where and for whom certain measures need to be developed chiefly in education and social services.
* Abstention from elections as one of the indicators of social cohesion / non-cohesion and its wider context (with special regard to the 2004 regional elections)
The initial empirical background for this study (and a springboard for analysis of supplementary data and for further interpretation and hypothetic conclusions) is based on the results of a public opinion survey carried out by the Centre for Public Opinion Research between 17 and 24 January 2005. The inquired group consisted of 1037 people over 15 years of age, and a sub-group of 813 people eligible to participate in regional elections.
* Method of elections, powers of authority and the role of the president of the republic: public opinion versus constitutional practice
In every democratic system, the position of the head of state has a specific meaning and various administrative and constitutional embedment. It is an institutional as well as symbolic expression of the state’s sovereignty, of its “unity in diversity” in the context of pluralistic democracy. Conceptual arrangements are very diverse within modern democratic constitutionality: in some states, the head of state is only a symbol of constitutionality and his/her powers are either entirely formal (Great Britain) or very restricted (Federal Republic of Germany, Austria).
Occupational reputation as viewed by the general public is among interesting topics immediately related to labour issues and, indirectly, to other problem areas such as value orientation or modernization. At the end of last year, occupational reputation was analysed as part of one of the ongoing investigations of the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) of the Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
The pub is a notion under which anybody who spent at least some time in the Czech Republic is able to imagine something specific. Of course, it actually covers diverse types of catering facilities. Other facilities, on the other hand, do not acknowledge this name even if they could. Similarly, individual people’s ideas as to what exactly Czech pub stands for differ to a greater or lesser degree.
For the last few years, comparable public polls dealing with different topics have been carried out in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland within the international cooperation based on CEORG. These countries were occasionally joined by other states from Central, Eastern or South Eastern Europe. These more or less regularly repeated polls include questions asking about the country’s economic situation and household living conditions.
From the end of the Second World War until the beginning of the nineties planed parenthood in the Czech Republic was reduced to termination of pregnancy, that is, to contraception ex post. In the time of highest abortion rate – the second half of the eighties - almost one half of pregnancies ended by induced (unnaturally awakened) abortion. In this almost fifty-year long period there was an inverted relation between fertility and abortion: if the number of abortions increased, the rate of fertility decreased and vice versa (increase and decrease of induced abortion was caused predominantly by changes in the abortion legislation).
Nowadays, painless connection of professional and family life is an ideal desired virtually by all parents in the Czech society. It is certainly difficult to be engaged at work and in the family life as well. All parents face the problem of how to divide their attention and time. Whether this decision happens knowingly or rather intuitively, in the end, the parents have to find a certain compromise between their professional and family life.
On a regular basis, the Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění (Public Opinion Research Centre) asks questions relating to the environment several times a year. A part of the questions focuses on the behaviour of respondents and their households, to what degree they themselves try to do well to the environment and whether at all they think that such efforts may have any meaning. Other questions deal with assessing activities of various institutions active in environmental protection and, in general, the behaviour of companies, residents and legislation.
We will not diverge too far from the truth if we assume that most reserachers taking part in social research consider the period of field data collection as a sort of unwelcome pause between two important acts: preparation and evaluation. As if their work stopped at that moment, as if the raging mountain river of current research hid somewhere in the rocks and underground caverns in order to reappear after a time quietly burbling somewhere down in the valley.
Motivation context for party preferences and the election act criteria are a very multi-faceted variable difficult to grasp and cannot be isolated from the entire process, in which opinions are formed. Understanding or interpretation of natural laws behind actual election behaviour is, therefore, an immensely complex and multi-faceted issue. Political opinions of individuals, in principle, derive from identification with various specific and/or reference groups such as family, internally homogenous work, religious, ethnical groups and – last but not least – party and class collectivity.
Issues from global politics do not appear in sociological investigations or public opinion polls very frequently although their results tend to be relatively interesting and, oftentimes, they meet with extensive interest and response from media as well as the general public. Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění (Public Opinion Research Centre) strives, as its possibilities allow, to include questions from this area in its continuous investigations.
* Analysis of the European Parliament elections 2004 in the Czech Republic. Is the theory of second-order elections still valid?
The results of the European Parliament elections in the Czech Republic were surprising for party participants, as well as for observers and students of political science, both from the viewpoint of election turnover, and success achieved by certain political parties. Even though the pre-election polls predicted election turnover of forty percent, no one expected participation at 28 %. High election gains of the opposition parties, ODS (Civic Democrats) and KSČM (Communist Party), were expected.
Work, considering mainly work in the form of a paid job, places an important position in the life of every man. Work has its importance not only for the individual, who spends more than one quarter of every day of his productive life working, but also for the society. Although there have been changes in the meaning and the role of work in today’s society [see Mareš 2004], the majority of people consider work as a commonplace part of their life.
Over the past two years, the public finance reform has turned into a dominant topic in Czech politics. Shortly after having been instituted to power, the cabinet of the Prime Minister Špidla announced the reform as a core element on its government agenda for the entire election term. For a long period of time, the very notion of public finance reform has represented one of the notions most frequently exploited in public presentations of coalition and opposition politicians or local political commentaries and major media news.
Causes of fertility rate decline present one of the most burning questions of our time. In principle there are two main theories accounting for this change. The first one regards the cause mainly in economical factors, that is, in the fact that young people are not provided for economically and they can’t afford to establish a family (or to have other children), even if they want to. The other theory claims that younger generations have a completely different value system as opposed to their parents.
Presented results stem from a research realized by the CVVM (Public Opinion Research Center) as a part of a project ”Our society 2004” in March 2004, on the sample of 1056 respondents representing the population of the Czech Republic aged over 15. The research focused mainly on identification of people’s contentment with the environment and some of its aspects. It further tried to specify public awareness of environmental issues, i.
* Elections to European Parliament from the point of view of gender – gender differentiated view on political party ballots and voter participation
The question of equal opportunities for men and women has not been a political issue in the Czech Republic for a long time. The situation has changed significantly, however, since our government pledged to deal with unequal position of men and women in many spheres within the process of deepening European integration. Yet we still have to note that the issue of equal opportunities has only marginal place in Czech politics.
* Public Support to the KSČM after 1989: Historical Grounds, Political and Social Context, Perspectives
In the region of Central Europe, the KSČM (the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia) represents a certain unique phenomenon – in none of the post-communist countries does a communist (communist-party based) and only little reformed party play an analogous role within the party system, in none of them does it have such a high (and what is more: even growing) electorate support. In Poland, Hungary (but for example also in Slovenia) the local post-communist parties took over the politics of their reformist wings, deepened it and continued in it consistently.
Recently we have voted for the accession of our country to the European Union. One section of the agreement about our accession concerns certain transitory periods, which refer, apart from other things, to the so-called free movement of workers. In countries that will put these transitory periods into effect Czech citizens will still be allowed to work only with a work permit. Some member states declared already in advance that they would fully liberate their labour market immediately after the accession of the Czech Republic to the EU, namely Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland.
Undoubtedly, the culture of cooking is one of the elements of human culture. Traditional cuisine differs from region to region. In the past, the use of individual ingredients was closely linked not only to climatic conditions and their gradual changes, but also to human activities – development of trade (overseas travels), discoveries of new cooking technologies (closing of the fireplace).
Cooking skills have traditionally passed from the mother onto the daughter.
Undoubtedly, party preferences are an indicator (and, from the point of view of media discourse, the most rewarding one) of political moods in the public. Why is it precisely party “popularity” that lays in focus of attention of laymen and expert public alike? Without the need to plunge into theoretical enumerations of functional lists of political parties, it is beyond discussions that political parties represent – along law-making bodies, government, and bureaucracy – the main structural component of the political system and create its institutional and relational environment.
Czech political parties have existed for more than one decade. Their position in the political system seems to be stable and is seldom put to doubt. When this occurs after all, a solution only seemingly dissimilar to political parties is offered. This was the case, for example, with the “Thank You, Leave” (Děkujeme, odejděte) civil initiative. Its representatives were thinking of transforming it into a political party after the initiative succeeded with the public.