chapter  9
21 Pages

Czech science policy in social sciences and humanities: Towards transformation and catching up ADOLF FILÁCˇEK

Research in social sciences and humanities constitutes an important component of overall learning and getting knowledge, known to contribute to the task of directing human activities when coping with social problems, while helping to shape a vision of our future as well as the values on which our life is grounded and which affect our personal and social behaviour. The evaluation and the analysis of Czech research in the social and economic sciences (Illner 2002; Kaase et al. 2002) and humanities, of course, has to respect the specific nature of a complicated historical development and its current public perception. At the European level, similar correlations manifest themselves and, more-

over, an increasingly important factor is that Europe is striving to become a knowledge-based society. In this process, the increasingly extensive access to information and knowledge of all kinds is more and more relevant, especially as regards the knowledge related to complex social, political and economic processes affecting behaviour and individual lives of European citizens. The European Union (EU) intends to strengthen its standing in a globa-

lising world (the so-called Lisbon process concentrates particularly on economic competitiveness). European societies, therefore, need to increase their competitiveness in different aspects, and this requires an active approach on the part of their citizens, seeking to solve problems at the European, national and regional levels. The citizens will necessarily become active actors in the European societies, contributing to their development, while respecting cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences. Without doubt, an important role will also be played by the social sciences and humanities – together with constant educational activity and lifelong educational activities by the citizens. The political and economic transformation of the Central and Eastern

European (CEE) countries in the 1990s has also affected their research system, mainly in the social sciences and humanities. The radical changes, including also a variable decrease in financing, initiated major reforms of the research and development (R&D) system. The implementation of these

reforms (Provazník et al. 1998) was constrained by the economic and fiscal crisis, which followed the transition to a market economy. The ways and means of coping with both new problems and opportunities were different in each CEE country according to their situation, the position of their research system, and also traditions and cultural aspects (Mayntz et al. 1998). There are both general trends and significant differences among CEE countries and research disciplines. The differences are in financial threats and coping strategies, personnel reductions, forms of institutional transformation, relations between academies and the university sector, support of basic and applied research, engagement of the business and enterprise sector in research activities, and new patterns of international collaboration in research.