Lokální a regionální studia

he department focuses on local and regional aspects of social dynamics, the spatial structure of society, and other phenomena intersecting sociological, geographical and political research. The department’s long-term research interests include: (1) social and spatial inequalities; (2) public administration and urban, municipal, and regional planning; (3) identity, lifestyle, and the sociocultural environment; (4) environmental aspects of social processes; (5) mobility and migration.

The wide range of topics the department studies requires the use of an equally diverse array of research methods. Work on the department’s research projects thus produces new qualitative and quantitative data. The researchers use questionnaires, ethnographic methods, and in-depth interviews, analyse documents (such as development plans or local policy papers), archive materials, and current and historical statistics, and may even collect and analyse photographic materials.

Although most of the studies are conducted in the Czech Republic, this work is not cut off from academic discussions on an international level. The department usually publishes its research results in Czech and English, which helps build international ties of cooperation and enables comparisons between the Czech Republic and other countries. The department also shares its knowledge and findings with those for whom they hold the most relevance – namely, political representatives, public officials and administration, other experts, and the general public.

Long-term research topics

Social and spatial inequalities

Social and spatial inequalities are one of the key subjects studied by the department. Researchers explore how society is hierarchically structured by unequal access to important resources and values, such as property, education, quality housing, security, and health, and examine the spatial aspects of social hierarchies and the contextual conditions of spatial environment fostering or constraining opportunities in life. Researchers study the mechanisms that work to maintain or alter differences in the standard of living between populations in different regions. They study the differences between regions and between urban and rural environments, the differences within cities, and the situation of individual urban districts, and focus special attention on research into poverty, homelessness, and social disadvantage in a spatial context. They also explore research topics that relate to people’s everyday spatial mobility and look at how people take advantage of the various opportunities that exist in a space and how individual mobility is linked to social status.

Key projects:

Local administration and planning: cities, municipalities, regions

Research on local administration and planning involves studying how urban planning and policies function and change, how public administration operates on the level of municipalities and regions, and what forms of cooperation exist between municipalities and other actors in a region, which includes looking at public participation, regional development, and how development priorities are determined. Past and current research projects have also studied regional dynamics of voting behaviour and the effects of demographic changes on the local and regional levels.

Other key topics that the department’s projects have focused on in recent years include the functioning of local administration and local authorities in relation, for example, to the living environment and to culture. The department studies how cities respond to the discussions about climate change and the effects of a changing climate, how policy documents relating to culture are developed, or how culture and art are employed in urban social policy. The department’s researchers also study questions of local identity and a population’s relationship to the place they live in, including research on prefab housing estates.

Key projects:

Identity, lifestyle, and the sociocultural environment

Communities in different regions or localities have specific sociocultural resources available to them that can stimulate the development of local culture and that create the specific lifestyle conditions of a community. Sociocultural resources are influenced by the discourse in society and by the perceived values, characteristics, and qualities ascribed to a place by both residents and non-residents. The department studies, for example, how the character of a residential environment, its infrastructure, and the activities of the local community, as well as many other factors, together create the conditions of people’s leisure time, cultural activities, and work-life balance. The sociocultural resources of a place also have effects on the processes of socialisation, endoculturation, and enculturation. They determine people’s opportunities in life, co-shape their quality of life, and contribute to the development of cultural identity, but they can also become a valuable commodity.

Key projects:

The environmental context

Research is devoting increasing attention to the environmental context of social phenomena. In its research on the interactions between society and the living environment, the department focuses on the mechanisms in society that shape attitudes and activities relating to the living environment, but it also examines what effect changes in the living environment have on the functioning of society and social groups in relation to sustainability. In recent years there has been a significant increase in the importance of research on social reactions to climate change and environmental justice issues and thus on the connection between the position people occupy in the social structure and the unequal distribution of the environmental risks they are burdened with.  

Topics that the department devotes greater research attention to include: the societal factors behind land and landscape conservation, which involves studying landscape behaviour and the attitudes of the Czech public and individual social groups (e.g. farmers) towards the landscape and its use; the local reactions of communities and local authorities to climate change, mitigation processes, and adaptation on the local and regional levels; sustainable lifestyles grounded in particular values and viewpoints reacting to current environmental problems and the social movements that are responding to these problems.

Key projects:

Mobility and migration

Everyday life and social actions and practices are closely linked to how mobility and migration are perceived, conceived, and exercised. The department’s research interests thus include mobility and migration issues, the forms mobility and migration take, and their sources and obstacles. Various types of mobility are examined in connection to each other in order to understand how different social groups experience territorial belonging, attachment, and citizenship. Mobility and migration theory, policy, and practices are studied in terms of how they evolve in relation to local and global forces. Power asymmetries and mutual interdependencies are a source of precarious mobilities. Mobility, access to various resources, and control over one’s everyday life are essential to sustain public participation, civic engagement and human rights. Mobility and migration are also central to current debates on privacy, algorithmisation, and social justice, where the mainstreaming of new geo-technological tools such as GPS has raised ethical concerns with broader societal consequences far beyond research praxis.

Key projects:

Selected publications

2012
Patočková, Věra, Daniel Čermák, Kateřina Vojtíšková a kol.
View all publications

Aktuálně řešené projekty

Hlavní řešitelé:
doc. Mgr. Slavomíra Ferenčuhová, Ph.D.
Hlavní řešitelé:
Mgr. Jindřich Krejčí, Ph.D., doc. PhDr. Marek Hrubec, Ph.D.

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