‘Path Dependence’: How Geopolitics and Culture Shape Divisions in Poland after the Fall of Communism
I examine two long-wave processes, geopolitics and culture, which I consider to be the main causes for the fall of communism and the beginning of the transformation. As a result of the geopolitical situation-in the shape of communism’s multidimensional defeat by capitalism-the national culture was able to help society use the new geopolitical context successfully. I distinguish two sequences of cause and effect: The geopolitical one, in which the sequence begins with geopolitics treated as an independent variable and an element shaping all systems, which are treated as dependent variables, i.e., communism loses to capitalism – downfall of the state, for instance, the ‚Round Table’ – downfall of the central, planned economy (economic reform) – ‚S’ as organized rebellion – the Western model; and the cultural sequence, which begins from culture treated as an independent variable and a factor shaping all systems, which are treated as dependent variables, i.e., community based on national, religious, traditional, and solidarity values – ‚us’ against ‚them’ – industrial workers and the Church hierarchy supporting gradual change – the ruined work environment and civil society – Christian Europe and Poland’s mission in East Central Europe.
I do not absolutize either geopolitical or cultural explanations (these are tools). I am closest to a configuration approach, in which attention is concentrated on all the factors that could contribute with ‚equal strength’ to forming a ‚virtuous circle’. It is a relational approach, neither determinist nor constructivist (voluntarist). Structures and agencies possess autonomous powers of causal influence. There is a dual constituting of the agency/actor and the structure/system.
The paper presents the symbolic dimension of the (re)production of Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, which is considered to be a model legal-political institution. Paying close attention to meaning, narrative, symbolic codes, and rituals, the authors object to a reductionist explanation, based on instrumental thinking and conscious and material interests, of the legal institutions of power. In accordance with neo-Durkheimian cultural sociology, the Tribunal is presented here as an institution created through binary symbolic codes (sacred/profane), and reproduced, in crisis situations, in performative acts constituting moments of ritual purification. The dominant narrative legitimizing the Tribunal counterpoises ‚sacred’ law with ‚profane’ politics in order to superimpose subsequent homological classifications (rational/irrational, pure/impure, universal/particular). The Tribunal’s symbolic power is thus hidden within a thick web of meanings, which invisibly reinforce its authority.
From the perspective of new institutionalism, this article studies the rules of doing business in Poland in the context of the country’s accession to the European Union. The article’s starting point is the premise that interaction between formal and informal institutions leads to an institutional balance or imbalance and determines the final shape of the economy and its effectiveness. Accordingly, the authors analyze four types of relations occurring between the formal and informal rules of doing business in Poland: (1) the influence of the restrictiveness of regulations on informal relations between the public administration and business; (2) the relation between the low effectiveness of the law in regards to running a business and informal adaptive reactions; (3) the effects of EU law on business strategies; (4) the effects of the global economy on the extent and forms of cooperation between the public administration and business. Analysis of empirical material provides a basis for constructing four institutional models of the rules of doing business in Poland: the ‚antagonistic’ model, in which the administration and business are striving for mutually exclusive goals; the ‚parallel’ model, where formal and informal institutions create separate orders; the ‚alternative’ model, in which formal, new, EU solutions are created; and the ‚integrated’ model, where actors are encouraged to realize common aims.
This article seeks to identify the relationships between fatherhood, masculinities, and the welfare state. The paper is based on fifty-two interviews conducted with Polish and Swedish fathers living with their biological children and their partners. A comparison of Polish and Swedish fathers enables us to comprehend how everyday practices and men’s thinking about parenthood and gender roles are connected to hegemonic masculinities models and family policy systems. The study shows how definitions of parental roles adopted in family policy influence men’s engagement in caring activities and the domestic sphere, as well as how they can help in the reconstruction of hegemonic masculinity and traditional gender order within family life.
A city marketing narrative consists in an attempt to provide a new city image or strengthen the existing one. The process of creating the city’s image may affect (re)interpretation of the history, culture, and heritage of the city. In city marketing narrative, the most desired meanings and associations are sequenced as primary, while the most unwanted ones are supposed to be gradually forgotten and eventually eliminated. The presence or significant absence of certain topics, use and abuse of positive themes, and elimination of negative ones may result in disturbing cultural themes. The article explores how the city marketing narrative (re)interpretsmyths, stereotypes, culture, history, and heritage. The project was focused on the city marketing narratives of five Polish cities (Lublin, Poznan, Wroclaw, Katowice and Gdansk). A quantitative and qualitative research study was conducted (in-depth interviews, n=48; content analysis of cities’ marketing narratives; CAWI, n=314). The research made it possible to name three schemes of dealing with history.
Ulrike M. Vieten
In times of globalisation and super-mobility, ideas of normality are in turmoil. In different societies in, across and beyond Europe, we face the challenge of undoing specific notions of normality and creating more inclusive societies with an open culture of learning to live with differences. The scope of the paper is to introduce some findings on encounters with difference and negotiations of social values in relation to a growing visibility of difference after 1989 in Poland, on the background of a critique of normality/normalisation and normalcy.On the basis of interviews conducted inWarsaw, we investigate how normality/normalisation discourses of visible homosexuality and physical disability are incorporated into individual self-reflections and justifications of prejudices (homophobia and disabilism). More specifically we argue that there are moments of ‚cultural transgressions’ present in everyday practices towards ‚visible’ sexual and (dis)ability difference.
The lateRichard Grathoff has exerted a strong influence on the development of Polish interpretive sociology. The essay briefly describes his ties with Poland and proceeds to report on the problems raised at a recent symposium held in Warsaw in his memory. The major topics discussed at the symposium include life-worlds, social inconsistencies, the role of symbols, and the attributes of contemporary society.
The text summarizes the international conference commemorating Maria Ossowska, a distinguished Polish ethicist, sociologist of morality, and social philosopher on the 40th anniversary of her death. The event gathered numerous outstanding scholars from various countries and continents, who came to debate her contribution to these disciplines in contemporary times.
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