“Solidarity”—A Contribution to Social Movement Theory
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Medical University of Gdansk
Publication date: 2006-03-30
Polish Sociological Review 2006;153(1):39-54
This article is an attempt to link the attributes of “Solidarity” with the movement’s place in the theory of social movements. The evolutionary paradigm has left a gap with respect to selection and systematisation of these movements. The historical approach must be adopted in order to fill in this gap. It is therefore necessary to focus on “Solidarity” as a special case in the context of the history of nation, within the framework of the totalitarian macro-formation produced by the solutions adopted after World War II. “Solidarity’s” contribution was not limited to one country only. It also helped to trigger more general transformation and globalisation processes. The rationality of “Solidarity” is rooted in systemic contingencies which required the development of an effectivemethod—sit-in strikes—but also negotiations with the regime. However, the democratic culture rooted in national tradition was the decisive factor. In the West, the state was already being viewed as an obsolete form, whereas the lesson which was learned from the Polish experience was that the sovereign state is essential for reform and modernisation. The validity of this lesson was confirmed in practice. The author argues that “Solidarity” did not fit into the schematic distinction between “old” and “new” movements. Class interests were not a priority, neither were the interests of minorities, as they are in the West.
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