Science & Research

The core of our scientific work consists of field research. We use intensive qualitative methods to obtain data: participant observation, in-depth and semistructured interviews, descriptive and reflective notes, audio-visual records, recording of genealogies and maps, online data collection.

Concept of Science and Research

Our research focus is evenly distributed between basic and problem-oriented or applied research – we seek to contribute to the search for scientific answers to current, historical, as well as timeless social issues. We place emphasis on interdisciplinary overlaps, while pursuing the internal integrity of the key disciplines and constant precision of their subjects, approaches, and methods. In addition to field research in Slovakia, we conduct research abroad – in Central Europe and in the world. In domestic research, we seek to capture the relationship to supra-regional contexts as well as global backgrounds and trends.

Unlike other historical and social sciences, we build primarily on field research, using intensive qualitative methods for data acquisition: observant participation, in-depth and semi-structured interviews, detailed descriptive and reflective notes, audio-visual records, photo-documentation, as well as schematic recording of genealogies and maps and, more recently, data collection through the internet, e.g., by (critical) monitoring of discussion forums on the studied topics. The research subject determines the type of applied methods: in addition to in-depth research (long-term and recurrent qualitative and quantitative surveys), we carry out short-term surveys by means of questionnaires at several locations in order to ensure representativeness and contextualisation of the potential regional data embeddedness. In the field of historical ethnography, we use critical work with archive sources and documents; we have experience in applying the oral history method; work with discursive and content analysis when it comes to textual or visual analyses; and apply statistical methods of processing when analysing larger data corpora. We also have experience with social laboratories which apply experimental research methods. With regard to visual-anthropological projects, we are involved in the creation of ethnographic films.

Research orientation

The main research areas of the IESA SAS for the years 2021–2025 are based on the programme document Through Knowledge towards Prosperity – Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation of the Slovak Republic (RIS 3) of 2013, the new Horizon Europe (HEU) programme, in particular Cluster 2 Culture, creativity and inclusive society, and UN Agenda 2030 (17 sustainable development goals).

1. Continuity and transformation in the lives of people, groups, and society

family and inter-generational relationships; children and youth; elderly people; gender and gender identities; individual and social memory; individualisation, privatisation; intimacy, loneliness, love; value systems and life styles; research of religion and non-religion at present; new forms of spirituality, secularity, and atheism; the anthropology of religion and rituals; ethnic groups and communities, national minorities, identity, ethnicity, group images, stereotypes, prejudices and inter-group relationships in the context of social transformations of the 20th and 21st centuries; active and engaged citizenship, civic participation; volunteering; new social movements; local and global activism; community life and community activities; the impact of the media on the emergence of hoaxes and conspiracy theories; conspiracy theories in the context of current ideological and inter-group conflicts; the role of value-based and life-long learning.

2. Sustainability of the cultural heritage

tangible and intangible cultural heritage (a critical analysis); collective memory; cultural heritage values; the role of traditions and their importance for the development of current rural, urban, and regional communities, ethnic groups, and national minorities; new way of use of cultural heritage at present (adaptive heritage reuse and creative industry); misuse of cultural heritage in different historical periods and political regimes; holidays, festivities, rituals, and the eventisation process; current forms of narrative folklore; scenic folklorism; world cultural heritage (links to politics at the level of states and international actors – UNESCO, EU, CoE; authenticity; bearers’ participation in the protection and use of the heritage), the role of cultural heritage in building resilience of local communities.

3. Challenges of the Anthropocene

Research on group inequalities in society based on various categories (ethnicity, age, gender, health and disability, social status, education, poverty, religion, spatial/social or other marginalisation) and possibilities of their elimination (inclusion / exclusion), ensuring the quality of life and sustainable social and economic development; population ageing (active ageing, ageism, quality of life); secularisation and disintegration of the traditional value system, experience – vs. knowledge-based society, research on mobility (internal / external) and migrations (voluntary as well as forced migrations from a diachronous / synchronous perspective); depopulation of the countryside; urbanisation / suburbanisation and new urban challenges (changes in the physical and symbolic appearance of cities, creation of public spaces, neighbourhoods and community, social groups in a city); xenophobia, racism, the social causes and consequences of pandemics, Covid-19; research on the new ways of life and life styles from the point of view of enhancing the sustainability and resilience of communities and society as a whole; exploration of the social causes, effects and impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss; environmentalism and environmental movements; the effects and risks of new technologies and artificial intelligence in daily life, ethnic, cultural, and social innovations as a result of digital revolution.

4. History of the discipline, development of the theory and methodology

The history of the discipline, development of the theory and methodology of ethnological, anthropological, and religious knowledge, critical reflection of objects, methods, and approaches.

Scientific and research objectives

  • Maintain a balance between basic research and research oriented on current social issues;
  • Maintain a balance between the historical and social science perspective;
  • Enhance visibility of our research results (increasing the number of open-access publications and fulfilling the National Open Science Strategy (Open Data and Open Science);
  • Increase the level of internationalisation (more intensive cooperation with partner institutes abroad, more intensive involvement in international consortia and partnerships, intensification of research mobility);
  • Increase the extent of cooperation in domestic research (interdisciplinary research and interinstitutional cooperation);
  • Increase the share of excellent research; set up excellent teams within the workplace or join external teams; systematic orientation on quality, innovativeness, frontier research, and scientific syntheses;
  • Support a systemic building of scientific collections in the field of digital humanities and involvement in EU infrastructures;
  • Consider the gender dimension in research design;
  • Take into account environmental aspects and challenges in research design with a view to the protection and sustainability of the environment and climate;
  • Pay increased attention to the sensitisation of research design ethics, data processing and publishing by complying with strict international standards, while taking into account scientific integrity and the individual character of each research project.

Applied research

In line with the international trend of strengthening the social impacts of social sciences and humanities, the Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS proactively develops cooperation with the decision-making sphere and strives in a targeted manner to increase the visibility and application of expert knowledge obtained through basic research or expert approaches while dealing with issues of social practice in Slovakia. The Institute dedicates around 40% of its research and specialist staff capacity to application outputs.

The experts of the Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology SAS respond flexibly to requests for tailor-made expertise as well as various types of offers and forms of collaboration. It has successfully developed long-term collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations on applied projects, mainly in the field of gender policies, education of state and local authorities in relation to Roma, Jews, foreigners, migrants, and the phenomenon of ageing in Slovakia. We also continue our cooperation on the preparation of documents for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003.

Case studies of applied research​: