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The decisions concerning post-modern technologies, which have many good and bad (and often hardly predictable) consequences that modify our world, involve difficult scientific, political and axiological questions. The management of technological risk ever more frequently leads to social conflicts where expert knowledge clashes with (not always manifested) preferences regarding the desirable socio-economic development of our world. These 'technological conflicts', being an area where the legitimization of both science and authority are questioned, create, nevertheless, the platform for the solution of this crisis. The article reviews the range of sociological problems related to the management and communication of technological risk as well as to its social representation (both in the form of common-sense and scientific knowledge). It also indicates the trans-disciplinary and philosophical dimensions of this issue and stresses the importance and social functions of the democratic debate on the risk and advantages of post-modern technology and their governance.
The aim of this paper is to present an ethnographic probe into the complex issue – how people in Slovakia evaluated the course of the first wave of the COPVID-19 pandemic. We introduce the results of a pilot ethnographic research carried out in August 2020 in Bratislava and Nitra. To interpret the collected material, we use Mary Douglas´ cultural theory which addresses the political use of natural dangers and links the notion of risk with cultural values and moral norms. We consider Douglas´ idea that any danger is define to protect the public good and that the incidence of blame is a by-product of arrangements for persuading fellow members to contribute to it. We apply this argument in the specific context of the first wavy of pandemic in Slovakia. The analysis of ethnographic material has shown that people evaluate management of the pandemic by institutions, experts and politicians in different ways, but their judgements always point to moral norms. For them, political measures must be based on the scientific knowledge. A part of their assessment is blaming – attributing responsibility for the negative development to social actors. The specific scenario of dealing with danger refers to several prescriptive norms: learn, be careful, behave responsibility, listening to experts. As for politicians, they must serve society and follow moral rules. Future research will offer a more detailed look at the connection between the forms of social organisation and attributing responsibility to institutions and politicians during the pandemic, which can be useful in understanding how people in Slovakia face danger.
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