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Contemporary Religiosity and the Absence of Solidarity With Those in Need

Abstract

The article uses an adapted version of the multidimensional theory of religion to explore changes in contemporary religiosity in Central Europe, with a special focus on the Czech Republic. It asks whether there are any possible connections between the current absence of welcome of refugees, and the fact that the dominant religiosity that replaced the secularist ideology despises religious dogmas and institutions. It asks how people believing in “something”, who do not wish to define that “something” or share its vision with others, can make an informed and healthy judgment and make themselves capable of solidarity with others. The final part of the article returns to the possibilities of strengthening precisely those dimensions of religion that have been downplayed, yet without unrealistic expectations that people would move back to the form of religiosity their parents, but more often already their great-grandparents, left behind.

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How to Respond to Conflicts Over Value Pluralism?

Abstract

This paper starts with arguing that the main reason why value pluralism has become conflictual is that it challenges people’s socio-cultural identity. The next section gives a summary of recent sociological research on socio-cultural tensions and conflicts in the Netherlands and Europe. They are closely linked to “globalization issues,” such as cosmopolitism, immigration, and cultural integration. This shows that the prediction of the modernization theory, according to which substantial socio-cultural values would be replaced by a universalist, procedural ethics, has not come true. The third section discusses the philosophical reasons of the potentially conflictual character of today’s value pluralism: the fragility of socio-cultural identity, the spread of the culture of expressive individualism and the ethics of authenticity, and the influence of the (politics of) recognition of socio-cultural differences. The fourth section discusses two philosophical responses to the conflictual character of value pluralism. First, there is Taylor’s plea for a broadening of our socio-cultural horizon and a transformation of our common standards of (value-)judgments, based on his idea of a fusion of cultural horizons. In spite of its obvious merits, Taylor underestimates the degree of cultural distance that characterizes many instances of value pluralism. Second, there is an idea of cultural hospitality, which is an application of Ricoeur’s idea of linguistic hospitality to the cultural sphere. It is more modest than Taylor’s proposal, since it recognizes the unbridgeable gap that separates different cultures and their values. Another even more modest suggestion to diminish the conflictual character of value pluralism is the virtue of tolerance, which combines the idea that I have good reasons for my value attachments with the recognition that my values are not the completion of the ideal of human existence.

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The Challenge of Postsecularism

Abstract

Since September 11 attacks on World Trade Center, the word “postsecularism” became a kind of key to explain the existing tension between the secular and “indifferent toward religion” Western world, and the growing religious fundamentalism. However, the existence of conflict between secular and religious worldviews and the attempts to overcome it are not new. The aim of my paper is to present a few examples of successful endeavors of worldviews exchanges between believers and nonbelievers. But, first, a definition of postsecularism will be suggested together with some critical reflection on the concept of religion. I will also discuss some inspiring ideas and theories of postsecularism from the last decade. I would like to suggest a comprehension of postsecularism as a kind of pluralism.

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The Discussion of Possible Savings based on the Efficiency Argument in the Smallest Municipalities? The Case Study of the Vysočina Region

Abstract

The unique municipality structure in the Czech Republic is one of the most interesting research topics in the Czech political space. The large number of municipalities with less than 1,000 or less than 500 inhabitants causes differences between Czech municipalities. There are differences in economic factors, differences in the development of municipalities, among other. All of these differences are discussed by experts, researchers and politicians in term of the efficiency of the smallest municipalities. The term ‘efficiency’ is used as the benchmark for a successful or an unsuccessful government. This research evaluates the argument of efficiency presented by Deborah Stone (2002). This argument was applied to the case of Kraj Vysočina, one of the regions with the largest number of the smallest municipalities in the Czech Republic. We analysed the selected argument of efficiency – economies of scale. Based on our quantitative analysis we have confirmed that evaluating municipalities through the prism of the economies of scale argument is not a good measurement of the efficiency of municipal government. The argument of efficiency is more complex and we cannot view it only in economics terms.

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Endangered European Municipalities: A Systematic Outline of the Problem and Its Political Impact

Abstract

Drawing on the experiences of Czech municipalities that cannot perform their local government role due to grave indebtedness, this article seeks to identify other European countries where municipalities may be facing existential problems. It can be assumed that grave indebtedness is not the only potential threat to communities in Europe. One aim of this study is, thus, to identify other possible threats to municipalities and provide specific examples. My goal, among other things, is to start a scholarly discussion about endangered municipalities and bring this phenomenon into the realm of political science. My methodology uses qualitative research and content analysis to identify potential threats that could in extreme cases wipe out European municipalities. To obtain data about specific endangered municipalities in Europe, I rely on snowball sampling, a method used by researchers to identify potential subjects who may be hard to locate. My findings identify five potential threats to European municipalities, which I divide into two groups: common and less common. I highlight the locations of endangered municipalities and those where problems are pending as well as the groups of municipalities in the greatest peril from individual threats. I also highlight potential political impacts. My approach uses empirical case studies to model possible scenarios. Based on this analysis and the experiences of specific endangered municipalities, I outline six general forms of endangerment and eight different courses of municipal endangerment.

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The fight against terrorism is not optional: cases of V4 states and their participation in the fight against IS

Abstract

This article describes attitudes of V4 states (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland) and their activity in the fight against terrorism, and specifically in the fight against the so-called Islamic State that has appeared in 2014. In addition to applying role theory, the main aim of article is to define the roles that V4 states perform. The second aim is to give an explanation of their (non-)participation of active involvement in general in the fight against terrorism within the EU. The results showed that roles differ and only Poland is active in the fight against IS, however rest of V4 took part in passive support that relies on their size, budget and also political will. These results were observed in main statements made by policymakers of each particular state that have been done through content analysis.

Open access
It’s Getting Personal: Personalisation of political campaigns in four Prague districts during the 2018 Czech Senate elections

Abstract

In October 2018 Senate elections were held in the Czech Republic. In the capital city of Prague, 41 candidates – both party members and independents – contested for the votes of the electorate of four districts. The goal of this article is to analyse the electoral campaigns which were conducted within these four districts in the online sphere of the social media site Facebook. Through complementary quantitative and qualitative methods, this text focuses its attention on the communication of the candidates themselves, but also on the reactions of the electorate in the environment of social media. Employing qualitative content analysis of the topics addressed by the candidates, sentiment analysis of user commentaries and quantitative analysis of posting frequency and followership, this article examines whether the candidates who led an active personalised campaign were more successful than the candidates who communicated with the public only sporadically and with less personalisation. The aim is to explore how the campaigns of successful candidates were conducted and to accentuate that social media is becoming more important in the campaigns of individual candidates, but that they are not a panacea for non-partisan candidates without an established supporter base and financial resources.

Open access
Participatory Budgeting in the Major Cities in Poland – Case Study of 2018 Editions

Abstract

The paper refers to the social innovation of participatory budgeting which has become a very popular tool for stimulating citizen participation at the local level in Poland. It focuses on the major cities, defined as capitals of the voivodeships or regions. Based on the data concerning 2018 participatory budgeting editions in the eighteen cities, it describes the funding, organisation of the process, forms of voting and voter participation as well as the nature of projects selected and implemented. According to the amended Act on the Local Self-Government, organisation of participatory budgeting will only be obligatory for Polish cities from 2019. Despite that fact, it has already become quite popular and broadly applied in local communities. However, citizens’ participation and involvement in the process seems quite low, suggesting a need for experience sharing and improvement of the initiative. Also, project selection reflects the influence of various social groups within urban communities, rather than assisting groups which are at risk of marginalisation.

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Path Dependence and Local (Self-)Government Systems: A Comparison of three CEE Countries

Abstract

Path dependence is a concept often used by scholars in fields such as economics, economic geography, political science, law and sociology to explain recent developments. In this article, we apply the concept to support the hypothesis that the democratic revival after 1990 in the examined Central and Eastern European countries and related set-up of local (self-) government institutions were more influenced by an earlier path taken than by a more recent one. For this purpose, we undertake a content analysis of relevant legal documents and apply an in-depth comparative approach.

Open access