Electronic Library of Scientific Literature - © Academic Electronic Press


Volume 33, 2001, No. 2, p. 133-232


Postoje k nerovnostem, legitimita a sociální zkušenost v období transformace

Martin Kreidl
Fakulta sociálních věd, Univerzita Karlova, Praha, Česká Republika
Katedra sociologie, Kalifornská Univerzita v Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA

Attitudes Towards Inequalities, Stratification Legitimacy, and Social Experience During Transi-tion. This paper analyses legitimacy of poverty and wealth in six countries. In the first part various theories about perceptions of poverty and wealth are presented. The theory of dominant and challenging stratification ideology has been the most influential so far. The dominant stratification ideology is promoted by conscious legitimacy-supporting behaviour of societal elites and operates with individual explanations of inequalities. Therefore, the dominant stratification ideology should be shared by virtually all members of society. This notion is then complemented by challenging beliefs stemming from personal stratification-related experience. Negative social experience (unemployment, economic insecurity, etc.) as well as influential socializing groups (unions, liberal political parties) promote structural explanations. Split-consciousness theory then predicts that both individual and structural perception can coexist at individual level.

Based on some previous research I argue that the latent structure of perceptions of poverty and wealth is more complex. Using data from International Social Justice Project I found that people distinguish between merited, unmerited and fatalistic types of poverty. Merited poverty corresponds to what researchers usually call ”individualistic explanation” (e.g. loose morals, a lack of effort), unmerited poverty is due to discrimination, failure of the economic system, and lack of equal opportunities (so called structural causes), and fatalistic explanation operates with bad luck and lack of ability and talents. Moreover, people structure their explanations of wealth along three factors too. Wealth can be merited, unmerited, or based on social capital. Positive individual explanation attributes wealth to hard work, ability and good luck. Unmerited wealth is a purely negative explanation (dishonesty and failure of the economic system) and social capital sees contacts, unequal opportunities and good luck as reasons of wealth.

Further, I elaborate theories about determinants of perceptions of inequalities. I show how legitimacy of inequalities depends on individual stratification-related experience, group identification, education, and changing social atmosphere. Empirical support for those theories is not unambiguous. It turns out that relating legitimacy to individual and collective stratification experience is a fruitful approach. On the other hand the enlightenment effect of education is hard to generalize beyond the US where it was originally developed. Social atmosphere effects are hard to detect because of the confusion of age, generation and period effects.

Final section of the paper discusses strengths and weaknesses of dominant stratification thesis, challenging beliefs and split-consciousness theory. First of all, the analysis demonstrated that perception of inequalities is much more complicated than has been assumed so far. Dominant beliefs are less dominant than it is usually theorized and split-consciousness is by no means perfectly split. There is some positive evidence however. In post-communist societies we observed certain inertia of the old communist ideology, and also some successes in making up new individualism.

Dominant stratification thesis fails to explain the struggle over legitimacy of inequalities within the political elite. It fails to acknowledge that poverty and wealth might be incorporated into political discourse and that their legitimacy might be openly questioned. My analysis thus calls for reconsideration of the dominant ideology thesis. Moreover, post-communist experience also leads to a higher appreciation of individual stratification-related experience. Economic development after the fall of communism heavily undermined the legitimacy of inequalities. The East-West differential impact of absolute and relative deprivation is also worth emphasizing.

Sociológia 2001, Vol. 33, (No. 2: 135-162)


Miestna autonómia, samospráva a etnické menšiny

Ján Buček
Katedra humánnej geografie a demogeografie, Prírodovedecká fakulta UK, Bratislava

Local Autonomy, Local Government and Ethnic Minorities. Paper focuses on potential of diverse and flexible forms of local autonomy application in regulation of inter-ethnic relations and in satisfaction of minority rights and needs. The concept of autonomy is briefly characterised and specified, including various partial forms of autonomy according to the political and legal aspects, spatial aspects and formation (top-down and bottom-up). At the local level, besides two main forms of autonomy - spatial and personal, I outline more holistic "extensive local autonomy", that overcomes traditional meanings of autonomy. More attention is paid to prevailing understanding of local autonomy - as autonomy of local government. In this case, important role of decentralisation, relation between autonomy and self-government, as well as relations to the other levels of government and lines of power (executive, legislative, and judiciary) are emphasised. Besides crucial political autonomy, I discuss fiscal autonomy and various other possibilities for functional autonomy. Potential of autonomous institutions based on personal autonomy should not be underestimated also at the local level. Larger section of the paper addresses the most known concrete forms of autonomy applied in regulations of inter-ethnic relations and minority needs satisfaction. They cover autonomy of parallel local governments, autonomy of sub-local governments, autonomy of functional local governments, as well as informal bottom-up cases based on personal and institutional autonomy, as are informal autonomous parallel governments, informal sub-local and functional autonomies. Their main features, advantages, as well as risks in practical application are discussed, including some normative aspects. I reveal high potential of various autonomous structures at the local level. Nevertheless, I recommend applying them as a responsible local autonomy. It should be arranged by combination of various institutions with autonomous position, but circumscribed by guarantees for civil rights and democracy expressed in constitution, legislature and protected by independent courts.

Sociológia 2001 Vol. 33 (No. 2: 163-184)


K vybraným problémom transformácie sociálno-priestorovej situácie Slovenska v deväťdesiatych rokoch

Peter Gajdoš
Sociologický ústav SAV, Bratislava

On Selected Problems of Transformation of Social-Spatial Situation in Slovakia in 1990s. The article analyses the problems of transformation of social-spatial situation in Slovakia, which in many respects reflects the happening and turbulence of contemporary transformation process. After 1989, the reform of social-spatial sphere became one of the most expansive reforms (restoration of local governments, municipal legal subjectivity, creation of regional municipal associations, application of the Program of Village Restoration…). However, in the following period, the changes were not sufficiently rapid, complex and systematic in order to bring solutions to many imbalances in social-spatial situation of Slovakia. Author aims to answer the following questions: Are the ongoing transformation processes oriented towards the solution of problems and imbalances of previous industrial-urban period? In which direction fluctuates the social-spatial situation in Slovakia - towards the strengthening of its stability or on contrary towards the deepening of its polarisation? Which factors influence this fluctuation and what are their effects?

Authors analysis indicate the further fragmentation and polarisation of Slovak society (territorial, residential, social-economic) as the developmental and modernisation processes of these differentiating social and social-spatial subjects are quite asynchronous contributing to the society shocks and complicating its developmental dynamics. Polarisation of society rests on the horizontal social-spatial differentiation as well as on the vertical social-economic polarisation. Existing residential and regional differences usually represent the social inequalities. So is the case with the vertical social-economic polarisation, which has striking regional and residential impacts. This vertical polarisation deeply influences social stratification of contemporary society and creates new social stratum of poor and unemployed. The difficulty of the situation lies in the fact that both these problematic dimensions meet in the same regions and territories.

Author discusses in the greater detail the horizontal social-spatial dimension of Slovakia. Based on the empirical data, author analyses the state and the developmental tendencies of social-spatial situation in Slovakia at various levels - macro-social, regional and residential; and identifies the problems and imbalances produced by or accompanying the transformation process. He mentions the historical genesis of these problems, their current state and their impacts on the developmental conditions of settlements, concentrating mainly on social impacts of the development of Slovak society. Author also suggests the broader international implications of these problems.

In the conclusion, article declares the need for a systematic solution of these problems both in regional as well as territorial national strategies.

Sociológia 2001, Vol. 33 (No. 2: 185-206)


Vplyv T. G. Masaryka na konštituovanie slovenskej sociológie

Robert Klobucký
Sociologický ústav SAV, Bratislava

Influence of T. G. Masaryk on the Formation of Slovak Sociology. The article deals with the influence of the important Czech sociologist T. G. Masaryk on the origins of sociology in Slovakia. This influence relates mainly to the generation of young Slovak intellectuals, grouped around the journal Hlas, published between 1898 and 1904.

The article is focused on the historical genesis of Masaryk's relationship to Slovakia and Hlasisti and on the influence, which Masaryk's sociology had on them. Hlasisti alike Masaryk, never worked out a complex sociological system. Their sociological thought was developed in the series of pragmatic texts, which commented the problems of contemporary society. It was mainly the national question, which became a key intellectual issue in Slovakia at the break of the 19th and the 20th century. Hlasisti's discussion of the national question laid the first foundations of Slovak sociology as the modern empirical science.

Sociológia 2001, Vol. 33 (No. 2: 207-220)


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