PSR 4(176)/2011

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Marta Bucholc

Gendered Figurational Strategies in Norbert Elias’s  Sociology

Norbert Elias conceptualized social inequality as a result of shift in relative social forces of individuals in figurations, in which framework he also viewed the inequality between men and women. In this paper I examine the main thesis of what could be named Elias’s gender sociology: firstly, men and women use different strategies in their striving for an increase in relative power depending on their social position, and secondly, one of the most effective strategies which may be successfully used by the weaker party in order to change the distribution of power between the sexes is redefining the arsenal of cultural weapons used in this struggle. The antagonism between men and women trying to draw as much power as possible to themselves in the zero-sum social game can become very fierce, especially if the use of physical violence is legitimized on a respective level of civilization. On the other hand, according to Elias’s basic theoretical assumptions all individuals in a figuration are interrelated and interdependent, which restrains direct violence as well as suppresses radical liberation tendencies. This makes it easier for women to engage in strategies of coping with oppression on institutional, symbolic and proxemic level, which are discussed in the final part of the paper.

Szymon Wróbel

Mourning Populism. The Case of Poland

The point of departures of the paper is the theory of populist reason of Ernesto Laclau and some ideas from Mourning and Melancholia of Sigmund Freud. Author questions two established theses: (1) populism is a hollow and non-specified term as long as it is without reference to given postulates or political claims; (2) populism can be considered only on a rhetorical, not ideological level. Instead, author postulates that: (1) the difficulty of determining the populist discourse is not a transient ailment, only occasionally related to that phenomenon, but a quality built in social reality, permanent and irremovable; (2) the populist rhetoric is not solely an epiphenomenon that can be neglected in any serious analysis. On the contrary, there is a direct link between the two layers: the rhetorical and the conceptual. The reconfiguration of thinking about populism that author would like to advance should allow him to expect answers to a number of questions: (i) What are the relations between politics and populist politics? (ii) How and to what extent does populist logic alter the mechanisms governing politics? (iii) Is the depoliticisation of liberal democracy (the prevalence of administration over politics) a direct cause of the return of populism? In order to substantiate the thesis that populism is today’s way of doing politics, author reconstruct the recent post-communist history of Poland above all the situation after Smoleäsk tragedy, when a Tupolev-154M aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Smoleäsk in Russia, killing all 96 people on board. Thismoment marks opening of a new stage of development of populism that author will refer in the paper as „mourning populism.”

Borut Rončević, Matej Makarovič

Societal Steering in Theoretical Perspective: ‘Social Becoming’ as an Analytical Solution

The authors are tackling the issue of strategic steering of modern societies. Strategic processes are social processes, eventuating in a special field between individual and collective actors and the emergent social structures. The analysis must therefore take both micro and macro level into account. Social dimensions of these processes can be explained by the „social becoming” approach to the analysis of social reality. Within this approach strategy is located on the level of agency, between individuality and totality. This is the reason for „path-dependent” nature of strategic processes and of development, implying „choice within constraints” approach. Strategic actors have freedom of strategic choice, but this choice is constrained by the social structures and culture.

Łukasz Afeltowicz, Krzysztof Pietrowicz

Social Machines and Patterns of Natural Sciences. On Some Implications of Science and Technology Studies


We propose new articulation of the differences between the natural sciences and the social sciences. Drawing on science and technology studies (STS) we reconstruct the organizational and cognitive mechanisms of a certain type of natural sciences, one which is referred as laboratory science or high consensus, rapid discovery sciences. The key features of those sciences crucial for their cognitive and engineering success include:

• experimental reproduction of the studied phenomena in the laboratory;

• laboratory interventions and modifications of the phenomena thus evoked and broadly understood scientific ‚tinkering';

• attempts to transfer the artificial arrangements developed in laboratory to non-laboratory settings.

The STS perspective not only helps us to explain the differences in status and effectiveness between the social sciences and the natural sciences. It also allows us to formulate certain general recommendations for the development of the social sciences. We attempt to show that sociologists are able to implement engineering projects in certain domains of social reality, projects involving the creation of closed sociotechnical systems-analogous to the ones which are generated by natural laboratory sciences. We refer to those systems as ‚social machines’ and the proposed research methodology is called ‚synthetic methodology’.

Katarzyna M. Staszyńska

Cognitive Determinants of Data Quality in Public Opinion Polls

The public opinion survey conducted by CBOS (Public Opinion Research Center) on a representative nationwide sample of adult Poles (N=1,024) in February 2004 has included a set of questions developed in order to reconstruct various dimensions of respondents’ attitudes towards public opinion polls (e.g. anonymity, confidentiality, role of opinion polling in a democratic society, uses and abuses of public opinion polls, etc.). The aim was to verify the hypothesis that people who are better educated, more engaged in politics and already have some survey experience tend to define the interview situation in a more accurate and more positive way than those who are less educated, less involved in politics and having no survey experience at all. Thus, education, political participation and survey experience were supposed to be the main factors determining positive attitudes towards the interview, consequently leading to more accurate cognitive processes, lower tendency for satisficing and better quality of answers.

Factor analysis (to distinguish patterns of defining public opinion polls) and regression analysis (to verify the hypotheses) were applied in the analysis of findings.

Irina Tomescu-Dubrow

Effects of Future Orientations on Income Attainment and Social Class: An Analysis of Polish Panel Data

This paper examines the role of psychological determinants for Poles’ location in the postcommunist social structure, above and beyond the traditional determinants of occupational achievement. Drawing on the theory of planned behavior, I expect that peoples’ outlook on the future-whether in terms of perceived opportunities and threats or a more general view of the times ahead-has a lasting impact on their success, understood here as attaining higher income and/or privileged class membership. I analyze this relation over time, considering that the current status (St) is an additive function of future orientations (Ft-1) and earlier status (St-2). The Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988-2008 represents the backbone for my analyses. In this survey a representative sample of adult Poles was interviewed in 1988 and re-interviewed in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008. I analyze these panel data with lag variables, using OLS estimates and logistic regression for particular time-points. I also use cross-sectional time-series analysis to account for autocorrelation and multicollinearity stemming from the data’s hierarchical structure. Results support the main hypothesis in this study: consistently, thinking confidently about the future has positive effects on earnings and on belonging to the privileged social classes. This impact is substantive and statistically significant when prior income and social class, demographic characteristics, and education are controlled for.


*The 40th Anniversary of the Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development, Polish Academy of Sciences

*The Cultural Heritage of Solidarity

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