The Institutional Background of Czech Sociology before the Onset of Marxism - Zdeněk R. Nešpor
The study traces the development of Czech sociology to 1948, broken down into several periods: the period during which sociology established itself as an independent academic discipline (G. A.
Lindner, T. G. Masaryk, the Catholic sociologists), the period of Masaryk’s students, who while they established departments of sociology only partly engaged in empirical sociology (I. A. Bláha, E. Chalupný, J. Král), and finally the period of the third pre-Marxist sociological generation, genuine practitioners in this field, separated into the “Brno” and the “Prague” schools of sociology. A detailed description is provided of the thus far little-known history of Czech sociology during the period of the Second World War, and the outline ends with a look at the short post-war existence of sociology and its termination after 1948.
In addition to this very provisional outline, the study draws on archival research to present basic information about sociological institutions, societies, and academic and informational periodicals.
The most important university-based sociological establishments were the sociology seminars at the arts faculties in Prague and Brno, which existed in the interwar period and were re-opened after the Second World War (to 1949/1950), the Free School of Political Studies (1928–39), and the University of Political and Social Studies (1945–49 / 1953). Other important sociological establishments were the State Statistical Office, the Institute of Social Affairs, and in 1946–50 the Czechoslovak Institute for Public Opinion Research. Scientific societies also contributed significantly to the development of Czech sociology, the most important of which were the Masaryk Sociological Society (1925–48 / 1950), which published the journal Sociologická revue, and (initially with no formal organisation) the Society for Social Research (founded in 1937), which published the journal (Sociologie a) Sociální problémy.
The study is accompanied by an inventory and description of the archival resources of Czech sociologists working to 1948 and appendices on the development of the institutional foundations of Czech sociology.
History of sociology, sociological establishments, Czech sociology – 20th century, Brno sociological school, Prague sociological school
This study presents the institutional and organisational aspects of Czech sociology up until its abolition after the Communist coup in 1948, and it thus complements and revises other treatments of this issue to date, in particular the ideologically conceived, tendentious, and incomprehensive work of Antonín Vaněk. In the first part, a rough outline is presented of the development of pre- Marxist sociology, followed by profiles of contemporary sociological or related institutions, scientific societies, and journals, acquired mainly from archive research, and a summary of the archival resources of Czech sociologists working up to 1948.
This provisional outline of the development of Czech sociology up to 1948 does not attempt any deeper analysis of the evolution of Czech sociological thought, nor is it a substitute for an essential future treatment of the subject more complexly, but it does provide an introduction to its individual periods and introduces some thus far unknown knowledge. The history of Czech sociology is traditionally broken down into (1) the period in which sociology became established as an independent academic discipline (G. A. Lindner, T. G. Masaryk, the Catholic sociologists), (2) the period of Masaryk’s students, who established departments of sociology but engaged little in empirical sociology (I. A. Bláha, E. Chalupný, J. Král; this period also includes E. Beneš and other figures at the edge of contemporary mainstream Czech sociology – e.g. A. Uhlíř), and finally (3) the period of the most recent pre-Marxist sociological generation, the real practitioners of this discipline, separated into the “Brno” school of sociology (B. Zwicker, K. Galla, M. Hájek, J. Hanáček, A. Obrdlík, J. Obrdlíková, V. Slaminka, J. Šíma) and the “Prague” school of sociology (O. Machotka, J. Mertl, Z. Ullrich, J. Voráček), and of course their teachers, Bláha and Chalupný, and Král. The Brno and Prague schools of sociology existed side by side (and in opposition) throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and their primary difference lay in the methodological conception of sociology adopted by each school and in opinions on the practical applications of sociological findings, and notably also in the reception of the works of T. G. Masaryk, which were embraced more by the Brno researchers, while the Prague group oriented itself more towards contemporary and world sociology and favoured empirical research. With the exception of the “Marxist converts”, whose organisational involvement during the Second World War was deemed problematic (K. Galla, V. Kadlec, J. Šíma), both schools were shut down soon after 1948.
The section of the study on sociological establishments at universities presents an outline of sociology as a study field during the period under observation and takes a more detailed look at the Prague (founded in 1919) and the Brno (1921) sociological seminars at the respective arts faculties in the two cities, which formed the institutional foundation for the Brno and Prague schools of sociology. Especially important was the Prague-based Free School of Political Studies (1928–39), where advocates of both schools came up against each other, and after the Second World War the University of Political and Social Studies in Prague (1945–49 / 1953) and the University of Social Studies in Brno (1947–49). Other important sociological establishments were the State Statistical Office (established in 1919), the Institute of Social Affairs under the Ministry of Social Welfare (1919–41), the Commission for Rural Sociology at the Czechoslovak Academy of Agriculture (1924–52), the Czechoslovak Foreign Affairs Institute (1928–41, reinstated in 1945), and the Czechoslovak Institute for Public Opinion Research under the Ministry of Information (1946–50).
Scientific societies also contributed substantially to the development of Czech sociology in the 1920s to 1940s: the Masaryk/Czech Sociological Society (1925–48 / 1950), the Society for Social Research (established in 1937), the Silesian Institute (1906–57), the Sociological Circle of Prague University Students (1946–50), the Association for the Foundation and Maintenance of a Private Institute of Sociology and Philosophy (1937–52) and the Military Sociology Circle (1934–39?). The most important were the first two of these, linked, respectively, to the Brno school of sociology and the journal Sociologická revue, and to the Prague school and the journal (Sociologie a) Sociální problémy. The Society for Social Research was a more exclusive club, cultivating modern empirical sociology, while the Masaryk Sociological Society was open to all Czech sociologists and invested considerable energy in publicising sociology, though the results of its sociological work were weaker. During the Second World War this society (operating in 1941–45 as the “Czech Sociological Society”) was transformed from a scientific institution into a “commercial” organisation for research and education; even though it continued to be headed formally by E. Chalupný and I. A. Bláha, its practical direction was mainly in the hands of K. Galla and J. Šíma. The work undertaken during this period did indeed, from an organisational perspective, “save” Czech sociology and provided some researchers with employment, but its work exhibited a sharp qualitative decline. Criticism of its work and its main protagonists led to a rift within the Masaryk Sociological Society, after which only the Brno section remained active, but this and other scientific societies were nonetheless negatively affected by the emergence of so-called action committees after 1948 and the subsequent ministerial ban. The only scientific society that (covertly) continued to exist was the marginal Society for Social Research.
The final two parts of the study describe the content and bibliographical features of the journals in which Czech sociologists published most often, along with an inventory and description of surviving personal archive resources. From the period that preceded the emergence of the two rival journals mentioned above (Sociologická revue and Sociální problémy), a number of other journals are presented in the study, such as Athenaeum, Časopis katolického duchovenstva, Česká mysl, Naše doba, Parlament and Sociální revue, while alongside the publication platforms of the Brno and Prague sociological schools, the most significant journals were Filosofická revue, Kruh, Naše zahraničí, Ruch filosofický and Veřejné mínění.