PSR 3(175)/2011

PSR175

Piotr Gliński

Twenty Years of Civil Society in Poland?

This article synthetically presents the origins and development of civil society in post-1989 Poland. Having reviewed many years of research, the author proposes nine general theses which characterize these processes. 1) Civil society developed in seven basic socio-institutional areas including local communities, informal movements and initiatives, individual civic activity, some parishes and religious groups and the NGO sector. 2) Civil society in Poland is relatively small-scale and concentrated in enclaves. 3) Two major factors contributed to its development: bottom-up (grassroots) citizen activity and foreign support. 4) The Polish elite were a „grand absentee” in this process. 5) In addition to „betrayal by the elite,” other significant barriers to the development of civil society in Poland can also be identified. 6) The civil sector in Poland continues to be a wasted opportunity and potential. 7)After 2000 a specific, pro-developmental institutional change has been observed in the civil society area but has not yet produced positive effects. 8) Following the EU accession in 2004, partial „Europeanization” of civil society took place in Poland but its impact on the civil sector has been equivocal, at least so far. 9) Development of civil structures is essential for the normal functioning of democracy (at least in Polish conditions): civil society, based on the unique capacity to develop secondary groups, cannot be substituted in this role by quasi-civic, primary attachments and structures.

Łukasz Pawłowski, Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow

Worlds Apart? Political Theorists, Parliamentarians and the Meaning of Unequal Representation

Although political equality is guaranteed in the Constitutions of modern democracies, few members of disadvantaged groups are parliamentarians. Political theorists, free to imagine varieties of democratic processes, increasingly pay critical attention to this problem and to the idea of representation of social groups by members of these groups, i.e. descriptive representation (DR). Yet, surprisingly few political theorists have asked the parliamentarians themselves how they conceptualize and debate the merits of DR. We use the constructivist approach to explore the meaning of unequal representation by comparing the claims of political theorists to data from a recent survey of Polish parliamentarians.We find that parliamentarians and theorists overlap in many of the basic arguments for and against descriptive representation, but with two major differences. First, parliamentarians embed their arguments in the practicalities of their job to such an extent that it is impossible to meaningfully separate theoretical ideas from their relentlessly practical approach. Second, many parliamentarians have an unyielding faith in existing democratic processes, and believe that the democratic system will, eventually, lead to equal representation. That theorists and parliamentarians inhabit different social worlds is one of the main reasons why so many theoretical ideas on how to improve contemporary democracy are rarely implemented: many of them are simply at odds with the people who are supposed to do it.

Michał Nowosielski

The Trap of Transnationalism-Polish Organizations in Germany

Often in the migration literature transnational relations of migrants and their institutions with the sending country are described as important factor strengthening or improving the situation of the migrants in the receiving country. The aim of the paper is to empirically prove that in some of the cases the set of multiple conditions affecting immigrant organizations may have the opposite effect. The example of Polish organizations in Germany shows that transnationalization may have as a consequence the limiting, and the degradation of immigrant organizations standing. The four analyzed factors determining the situation of Polish immigrant associational in Germany: the characteristics of immigrant group, the policy of the receiving country towards immigration and IOs, the diaspora policy of the sending country, as well as the bilateral relations between the sending and receiving country together constitute a combination that has a strong negative effect on the functioning of Polish organizations. This all produces an impression of falling into the „trap of transnationalism.”

Alicja Zawistowska

Horizontal Inequalities in Higher Education

This paper aims to answer two questions concerning inequalities in tertiary education. First question concerns the effect of social origin on choice of field of study and the second question concerns the effect of gender. Existing research has demonstrated a significant relation between social background and the field of study. Individuals with more educated parents are more likely to study at prestigious faculties, such as law or medicine. Women are more willing than men to choose humanities and social studies whereas men more often choose technical studies. Will these patterns continue in the face of the rapid increase in number of students which began in Poland in the 1990s? A survey conducted in three state higher-education establishments in Białystok in 2008 shows that students’ choices continue to be affected both by social background and gender. We also found a significant relationship between the field of study and general risk-proneness. These results are explained in terms of three different theories: cultural capital, critical theory, and rational choice.

Sławomir Kapralski

The Problem of ‘Struggles for Recognition’ in Polish Sociology

The author studies the reception of the theory of recognition, represented by Axel Honneth and Nancy Fraser, in Polish sociology. Even if this reception is at present not very wide, one can still identify at least three problem areas in which Polish sociologists work on similar issues and with similar approaches as those present in the theory of recognition. These areas are: studies on identity and agency, gender studies, and research on various dimensions of marginalization. The author argues that the theoretical perspective of the ‚struggles for recognition’ would be an interesting inspiration for the research of Polish sociologists and shows some indicators of the growing interest in that perspective in recent years.

Tamás Keller

Intra-Generational Social Class Mobility in Hungary between 1992 and 2007-the Role of Celf-Confidence

This paper analyses the intra-generational social class mobility in Hungary between 1992 and 2007 using Hungarian panel data. Social class position is used as an occupation based typology corrected with a social status index (containing income, wealth and housing dimension). Self-confidence reflected respondents’ problem solving skills, determination, efficacy and optimism. Mobilizing the gain of panel data self-confidence was set to be stable over time and was measured prior to social class position (in order to avoid endogenity). The results of multivariate logit models showed that self-confidence has an impact on working class and deprived class position in 2007, even after controlling prior class position measured in 1992. People with high self-confidence were less likely represented in the deprived position and were more likely to belong to the working class. The decomposition of total effects of self-confidence into direct and indirect effects (mediated by schooling) revealed that in the case of higher status, social classes (elite, upper middle class, and middle class) self-confidence also had a significant impact however this was mainly transmitted through the channel of education.

Dobrosława Wiktor-Mach

On the Secularization, Modernity and Islamic Revival in the Post- Soviet Context

The paper reveals contemporary developments in post-Soviet Islam that challenge the predominant juxtaposition of Islam against secularization and modernization. I argue that the question Gellner has posed: why is Islam so secularization-resistant, is based on inappropriate assumptions. As the anthropological data from field research among Muslims in post-Soviet regions show, there are trends and processes in contemporary Islam that do not fit into „Islam as a secularization-opposed force” thesis. When the problem is approached from a perspective of diversity inside a religious field (Bourdieu) and competing „discursive traditions” then it’s possible to identify religious groups that have positive attitudes towards secular institutions and modern solutions. Next, problems with Gellner’s vision of contemporary Islam are discussed, particularly concerning the shift in power relations between „folk” and „pure” (or „fundamentalist”) Islam. Finally, I argue that overcoming the notion of one homogeneous modernity enables us to understand the modernizing forces in Islam.

Book Reviews

Alejandro Portes, Economic Sociology: a Systematic Inquiry.

Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2010. (Adriana Mica)

Krystyna Slany,Maria Kantos,Maria Liapi (eds.), Women in New Migrations: Current

Debates in European Societies. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press, 2010 (Mikołaj Pawlak).

Books Recommended