PSR 1(205)2019



The Decline of Political Party Elite 

In this article, the author presents a claim that, in parallel to the end of mass parties, it is possible to observe the progressing decline of elites within political parties. This phenomenon manifests itself on the following three levels: 1) a theoretical level—less and less attention is paid to elites in the theory of political parties as their place is being taken over by other approaches, in particular leadership theory; 2) a terminological level—the notion of elites is being removed from analyses devoted to political parties and supplanted by other terms such us “leaders.” They are sometimes considered as the synonyms of the word “elite”; 3) a factual level—there are strong reasons to presume that the decline in the importance of elites within political parties is an objective phenomenon related to the general revaluations taking place in contemporary political parties. Such revaluations cause changes in the distribution of power within political parties—party leaders and narrow groups of decision makers gain in importance at the expense of elites.

Keywords: political parties, elites, leadership, elite decline, power distribution within political parties

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Shortage of Local Civil Dialogue—an Institutional Perspective 

 This article is based on a narrow definition of civil dialogue, which includes interactions between the bodies of public administration and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The models of civil dialogue present in the basic units of local government (communes—Polish: gmina) were compared with the precepts of the European model of good governance. The author describes local civil dialogue in Poland (on the basis of existing data) and presents the results of his own research. These results show the approach of non-governmental organisations to social consultation with large municipal self-governments, as well as the reasons why NGOs avoid transparent forms of political communication.

Keywords: civil dialogue, civil society, social policy, welfare pluralism

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Regional and Historic Dimensions of Local Government Performance in Poland 

Abstract: Reintroduction of local government in 1990 was one of the main pillars of the post-socialist transformation in Poland. Municipalities assumed several tasks previously performed by the central administration and its territorial agencies.

This paper presents the results of mass surveys conducted among Polish municipalities and compares the findings with similar surveys conducted almost 20 years earlier. The results prove that the learning process among representatives of local governments in Poland is regionally differentiated, and that the differences can be attributed to the historical trajectories of particular macro-regions of Poland.

Keywords: local government, historical regions, cohesion policy



On the Domination of the Integration Perspective in Academic

Reflections on Polish-German Divided Towns—Selected Aspects

From the moment academics began to reflect on the divided towns of the Polish-German border their investigations were directed to such phenomena as cooperation, closer relations, unification, connection, integration, becoming similar, and overcoming barriers, as is clearly observable in the publications that emerged in the 1970s, the period of the first post-war opening of the Polish-German border for passport-free traffic. This article addresses the validity and usefulness of such a perspective on divided towns. Do the researchers not tacitly yield to the conviction that integration is the only reasonable destiny for divided towns and does this conviction not tend to be based on a theory of horizontal Europeanization? Should opposing, or at least slightly different scenarios, not be considered? While searching to answer these questions and attempting to dispel doubts the author makes use of empirical studies conducted in the Polish-German borderland.

Keywords: Polish-German borderland, divided towns, spatial/symbolic/ideological integration, transborderness



Practice Theory Revisited: How Flexible Meta-habit Complements Habitus 

This article seeks to understand why it is relatively easy for today’s individuals to acquire new behaviors, how the mechanism behind such acquisition developed, and how it is socially coordinated. Empirical findings reveal that new behaviors are mostly acquired unthinkingly. Hence, revisiting practice theory, I propose the concept of meta-habit to help us understand the blind and automatic acquisition of new behaviors. According to Pierre Bourdieu, habitus acquired primarily in childhood generates practices and contributes to the reproduction of the social order. Meta-habit includes disposal toward being open to situational context, toward inquisitiveness, and toward reading the external clues of behavior. Meta-habit generates practices on the basis of influences in the symbolic community: in this way practices are coordinated socially. Meta-habit is responsible for the reproduction of the social order in situations when the social space is very dynamic—this being the case of late modernity, which is a system comprising myriads of fields.

Keywords: Bourdieu, habit, habitus, practice theory, practices, sociality, symbolic community

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The Centenary of the Polish Peasant in Europe and America

through the Contemporary Concept of Social Remittances 

This article was motivated by the centenary (2018) of the seminal sociological monograph Polish Peasant in Europe and America by Thomas and Znaniecki (1918). It shows that classics can be not only occasionally referenced but also read in-depth with the new contemporary concept of social remittances embedded in transnational ties. Reaching for the Polish Peasant in Europe and America aimed this analysis to revisit the preceding passages of migration history and to revitalise the preliminary knowledge about human moves and social change.

The article is a reminder and a positioner of Thomas and Znaniecki’s monograph in their contemporary migration historical writings of Central Europe, not commonly referenced in international sociology. The methodology of the qualitative content analysis with retrospective mapping the flow of information in the illustrative cases of migrant families applied in this article, helped to analyse resistance and changes of norms, values, practices and social capital affected by international migration and bundled as social remittances.

Keywords: social remittances, family practices, transnationalism, transnational ties, migration, Polish peasant



Geneticization and Biobanking 

Abstract: While biobanks constitute an indispensable source of scientific data, they also generate many concerns related to the ethical, legal and social aspects of acquiring and storing of human biological material, particularly when it comes to the matters of privacy and confidentiality of data and commercialization of research results. It is important as social perception of biobanking may have a bigger impact on the donors than real scientific achievements, while negative images of biobanks may negatively influence the readiness to donate. This, in turn, may impede the functioning of biobanks. Thus, the aim of this paper is to describe the main social anxieties related to gathering and usage of human biological material. Beginning with the concept of geneticization, the paper will tackle the most important social concerns regarding biobanking: creation of a unique genohype, geneticization of diagnostics and identity, the risk of genetic discrimination and commercialization of genetics and gene patenting.

Keywords: biobanks, biobanking, ELSI, geneticization, genohype

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