Journal Our Society Archive
This article will not deal with public opinion as a social phenomenon. Many questions about what is public opinion, who are its bearers, what is its content and how does it appear were asked in the past and it seems that many of them still haven’t been answered sufficiently.
The trivial and most easily accessible definition is that “Public opinion is the opinion of the public”. However, it is far from solving the problem: What does it mean “public?” Who constitutes the public? Do all people belong to public, or only some of them? And possibly who? Isn’t it actually the other way round? Doesn’t public opinion comprise rather of opinions and thoughts that are expressed publicly, no matter who expresses them and who listens to them? And in this case, what does it mean “publicly expressed”? Does it concern publication in media, quarrel in a pub or an argument of a married couple? When discussing public opinion, one easily comes across such problems and circular definitions.
In case we apply this notion to businessmen and according to a recent survey of CVVM, it seems to hold true.
The survey in question, whose author was Milan Tuček from the Department of Transformation of Social Structure of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences (SoÚ AV) of the Czech Republic, was based on comparing opinions of the Czech population on big businessmen with their opinions on medium and small businessmen.
Unemployment undoubtedly belongs among the most significant phenomena as well as the problems of the modern world. First of all, it has a number of negative socio-economic consequences, both for directly affected individuals, their families, households, and their environment, which is affected, among others, by reduced purchasing power of the unemployed, and for the whole society, which has to bear both the direct and the indirect costs connected with unemployment and with the struggle to overcome it.
Many significant findings were obtained from a number of surveys conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre (Centrum pro výzkum veřejného mínění – CVVM) of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in connection with the integration process of the Czech Republic into the European structures . But because even these findings are subject to the general tendency to sink into fast oblivion, I will try to mention especially the attitudes, opinions, and expectations, forming the basis for the relationship of the public towards the European Union, a body whose part we will become next year and in which we are to build our position.
Prior to 1989, the Czechs had only limited opportunities to meet foreigners. Except for tourists, only students and workers from socialist countries came to our country in small numbers and for limited periods of time. After the borders opened, foreigners took advantage of the relatively liberal approach of the Czech Republic towards them. In addition to transiting foreigners, attracted by our border with Western Europe, we were also a lure for work migration.
Left and right – two notions used very frequently by politicians, journalists, and common people. Notions the content of which everybody intuitively knows clearly but which only a few are able to explain without ambiguities. Historians would definitely point out historical connections related to the origin of the notions in the times of the French Revolution and their development in the context of the development of modern societies; political scientist would probably contribute with the aspect of power distribution in fight for power and its development; a politician might manage with simple comparisons of the We and They type; and in daily speech, we would probably most often meet with popular names of political parties and expressions such as social security, etc.
So the SC&C agency has measured, supposedly most accurately, the election preferences. At least that’s what Irena Bártová, the company’s manager, claimed in her letter published in the column „From the editorial post“. In short, there is nothing better than an „exit poll“, that is to say, a mass survey carried out in several hundred districts among people leaving rooms in which they have just voted in a referendum about the Czech Republic’s accession to EU.
On the threshold of the twenty-first century science is becoming more and more a public domain. Times, when scientists researched independently of the social demand, ended already in the middle of the last century with state financing of extensive space and nuclear programs. Subsequent development of science financing aimed at supporting projects, whose results could be put into practice as fast as possible and thus improve the living standard of citizens.
Not so long ago, we could see for ourselves one of the important aspects involved in performing public opinion research – the importance of representativeness of the sample file. The Czech Social Democratic Party (Česká strana sociálně demokratická) organised a party referendum in October 2002. Among other things, it was supposed to indicate preferences of candidates for the President of the Czech Republic.
Low rate of representation of women in politics is closely connected with the status of women, who are regarded rather as a social group than as individuals. At the same time, their social status is lower than that of men. Perception of citizenship as defined by French theoretician Chantal Mouffe in her theory of radical democracy is in direct contrast to this construct. According to Mouffe, citizenship should be perceived as a form of political identity, which is fully compliant with the principles of freedom and equality (Mouffe in Seidman, 1995).
Identity, Activism and Hatred: Hate Speech against Migrants on Facebook in the Czech Republic in 2015
The increased influx of refugees and migrants to the EU in 2015 has been followed by a noticeable presence of online hate speech against migrants in many countries across Europe. The article presents the results of a study of hate speech proliferation on Facebook in the Czech Republic during the summer of 2015. Its goal is to identify the producers of hate speech and determine their social background, explore the main channels of hate speech proliferation, determine the specific groups of migrants targeted by hate speech, put the hate speech in the context of online political communication, and discuss the role of media and politicians in the process of hate speech proliferation.
The article evaluates housing satisfaction and its development in the Czech Republic after 2000. Its goal is to help better understand the processes behind this phenomenon by identifying factors that influence how the level of housing satisfaction varies between population groups. In a comparative perspective on cross-sectional data from 2001 and 2013, the authors present the main findings of two waves of a quantitative sociological survey.
Single motherhood is known to have negative consequences on the wellbeing and life chances of mothers and their children. It appears as a consequence of parental dissolution or birth to an unpartnered woman. There are studies of divorce and union separation in the Czech Republic but less is known about women who bear their children outside unions. The goal of the paper is to determine if the proportion of mothers who bear children without having a partner changes in time and if there is a change in the socio-demographic characteristics of mothers. As the data on unpartnered childbearing are limited, the paper also aims to map the available data sources and their possibilities and limitations.
Critique of Compulsory Vaccination in the Czech Republic: Characteristics of Parents and Discursive Frames They Use
The Czech Republic and its predecessor, Czechoslovakia, have a long-term tradition of immunization programmes, with a current coverage rate of 98–99%. Vaccination is mandated by law to all individuals living in the territory of the Czech Republic. In legal terms, a person who refuses to have their child vaccinated commits an administrative offence against public health. While many experts consider immunization as one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, some members of Czech society do not regard compulsory vaccination as a clearly positive phenomenon.
Relations with neighbouring countries are undoubtedly a significant determinant as well as a key indicator of stability of international political embedding of each state. Regional cooperation is therefore logically alpha and omega of the international politics of the Czech Republic. One of the priority objectives of the country is to extend and strengthen central European cooperation with other countries of the so-called Viszegrad Four as well as with the two neighbouring EU countries, that is, with Germany and Austria.
Since the beginning of the 1990's there have been relatively large changes in the reproductive behaviour of the population of the Czech Republic, including a significant increase in the proportion of children born out of wedlock. The paper describes the development of fertility rates among unmarried and married women in the years 1989–2014 in detail. Attention is paid to three main influences which are responsible for the proportion of children born out of wedlock, and obviously above all to the rates of nonmarital and marital fertility (by age and by birth order). The analysis shows that although there has been a convergence of the rates of fertility of married and unmarried women since the beginning of the 21st century, the reproductive behaviour of these women is still significantly different (average age of mother at birth of (first) child, distribution of birth order).
The article reflects the position of a foreign trade enterprise called Artia within Czechoslovak music industry. The primary goal is to reveal the modus operandi of the music industry in international trading on the example of Artia. Given its export orientation, Artia was a specific organization dealing more than other Czechoslovak record companies with commercial success instead of ideological and aesthetical issues in its editorial policy. Such an approach was dramatically challenged in the period of "normalization" (1969-1989) when ideological requirements on record companies were reinforced in the system of management and control of cultural production in Czechoslovakia. Artia, therefore, is a suitable object for exploring the relationship between ideological and commercial aspects of cultural production in Czechoslovakia from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Secularization through the Lens on Inter- and Intragenerational Transmission: Czech Republic in Comparison with Post-communist Countries of Central Europe
This paper is focused on changing rates of church affiliation and church attendance in the course of intergenerational and intragenerational transmission on the cases of four post-communist countries of central Europe: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. It is a generally accepted fact that the rates of traditional forms of religiosity in the Czech society declined continuously during the second half of the 20th century, while such an enormous decline was not indicated in other post-communist countries of Central Europe. These differences and their causes are main question for this analytical work. Contemporary religiosity is dependent on rates of its reproduction between generations. Inter- and intragenerational transmission was influenced by two basic factors: First, by an anti-religious policy, which varied between the communist regimes, and second by the resistance of some people and families against that concrete anti-religious policy. The rapid secularisation of Czech society was due to those two factors.
Levels of trust in political institutions and political actors are constantly low in the Czech Republic. This paper deals with the perspective of professional politicians, which is an unexplored topic in the Czech context. At the same time, we supplement the traditional view of political culture with an approach based on interpretive and constructivist sociology. We focus on the construction of symbolic boundaries by Czech politicians. We pursue a combination of narrative (Ricoeur) and critical discourse analysis (Wodak) based on 21 thematically oriented biographical interviews with politicians from three traditional political parties (ODS, ČSSD, KSČM) who have been actively involved in politics since the early 90's. The findings suggest that the politicians use symbolic boundaries as a cultural instrument for legitimizing their identity, status and practice of "traditional" politics. By defining others, the politicians are able to construct a reality in which they are on the same boat with citizens while standing on the command bridge.
Working life is one of the important factors that affect overall quality of life and subjective well-being. Measuring its quality has been the focus of many recent projects and surveys implemented in the Czech Republic. The following text deals with the most general indicator of the quality of working life, namely overall working life satisfaction. It analyzes the relationship of this indicator with subjective well-being and its non-work aspects as well as with current job satisfaction. The results show that overall working life satisfaction is a broader category than current job satisfaction, it is much more closely related to subjective well-being than the latter, and it differs from the latter sufficiently to be considered a valid specific indicator.
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The author of this review article introduces the relatively new social science field of human-animal studies, focusing on its sociological dimension. Her aim is not a particularized compilation of existing publications on the topic, but a synthesis of the key ideas behind the sociological perspective on human-animal studies. The author includes references to crucial works and selected web portals where one can find more detailed information. She introduces the fundamental premises and theoretic assumptions of the field and contextualizes it in a wider interdisciplinary framework. She presents a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. She provides an elementary outline of the historical development of this field and its successive establishment within academic centres, universities and scientific journals. The author also introduces selected topics which this complex field examines today and, finally, outlines its possible future prospects.
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Techniques using visual stimuli have existed in social research since the late 19th century. However, the methodological framework in which they are embedded remains limited in scope, especially with respect to quantitative research. In this article, the author focuses on the methodological aspects of various types of visual techniques. Subsequently, he proposes some recommendations for methodological design. After a brief historical review, the main part of the article discusses psychological projective methods, photo-elicitation techniques and the application of visual stimuli in in-depth interviewing and quantitativquestionnaire surveys. Final discussion focuses on the methodological specifics of visual methods, design recommendations and the problem of validity.
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Factors of Spatial Allocation of Pork Barrel Grants in Czechia 2003–2009: The Role of Deputies’ Home Locations
Political, financial and legislative support of one's own constituency or home location belongs to the main interests of politicians. The paper attempts to identify a spatial pattern in pork barrel grants allocated during the endorsement of draft state budgets by the Chamber of Deputies. The factor of deputies' home locations is analysed. Correlation analysis at district level exploits Parliamentary Gazette data on approved deputies' amendments to the draft state budget and a list of deputies' home municipalities from electoral database of the Czech Statistical Office. At municipal level, a local indicator of spatial autocorrelation was employed to discover several spatial clusters of high and low pork barrel support, which was compared with deputies' home locations. Although several pork barrel grants were allocated to these locations, no general correlation was confirmed.
>> Full text is available in Czech only <<