Conference Agenda

RN36_06: Political field: Politicians, institutions and masses
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Marju Lauristin, University of Tartu
Location: GM.304
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Patriotisms of the Polish Politicians – Continuity and Change. A Qualitative Study

Piotr Binder

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, VAT Registration No. 525-21-00-471, Poland

Patriotism remained, though with varying intensity, an important element of the Polish public debate's dictionary of the last quarter of a century. This does not mean that throughout this period it was fashionable or desirable. Often functioned rather as a negative reference point. Nevertheless, this category can be treated as an example of a certain continuity of political life. At the same time, the sphere of politics has undergone a radical rebuilding. Almost everything has changed from social conditions to cultural, economic or geopolitical once.

Can politics (political life) be conceptualized and researched today in the same way as it was 25 years ago? Or does the political life of the “Twitter era” require a kind of new opening, both theoretical and empirical?

In the proposed paper, I set the goal of reflecting on these issues on the basis of two sets of qualitative data collected at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The first of these are in-depth interviews with Polish politicians gathered in the mid-1990s (42 IDIs) within a research project 'Patriotism of the Polish Politicians'. The second set of qualitative data (including 31 IDIs) was collected in 2018-2019 within an ongoing follow-up study, which is a continuation of the research from the 1990s, and partly also refers to the same participants.

Keywords: sociology of politics, social media, qualitative methods, CAQDA

The Polish Space of Opinion on Russia: Origins and Structures

Andrzej Marek Turkowski

University of Warsaw, Poland

In my paper I investigate the influence of the 1989 transformation on the community of experts on Russia and the polish-russian relations. I ask, how the post-communist Poland organized its infrastructure for a production of expertise on this issue. I also attempt to analyze how the post-1989 “balance of power” between major intellectual traditions in Polish thinking about polish-russian relations was settled. Focusing on a small and specialized part of the Polish elite, I gain an insight into a wider process of transformation of different social fields, including media, academia or think tanks.

My paper is located within the tradition of Bourdieu’s field analysis, with its emphasis on relationality, reconstruction of structures and historical developments. Given, that the social space I study does not possess enough autonomy to be seen as a “field”, I use the concept of a “space of opinion”, developed by Townsley and Jacobs. I’m also inspired by works of Zarycki concerning adaptation of Bourdieu’s research to Polish, (semi)peripheral conditions.

My research makes several contributions to the field to East European studies as well as more general to sociology of politics. Firstly, it provides detailed, and empirically-based, insight into the process of elites struggles related to the 1989 transformation. Secondly, it explains foundations of the Polish policy towards Russia (from the point of view of expertise and debates). Finally, it provides a model for an analysis of social space, which does not form autonomous field. The model can be used in various studies concerning public opinion sphere.

The Rise of Illiberal Democracy in Poland: A Neo-Polanyian Interpretation.

Maciej Kassner

Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

According to many observers elections results of 2015 mark an important reversal in Polish politics amounting to nothing less than a regime change. While it remains contested what kind of political system is being constructed by the new authorities, the name "illiberal democracy" is frequently applied to describe recent changes in Poland, Hungary and beyond. In my presentation, I want to examine the political dynamics that brought these troublesome changes into being. My contention is that present illiberal turn in Poland cannot be properly understood without taking into account the previous phase of neoliberal transformation. In order to demonstrate how neoliberal policies made room for an authoritarian reaction, I would draw upon the theory of double movement put forward by Karl Polanyi in his 1944 classic The Great Transformation. Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. On the empirical side, I would discuss recent research findings regarding the consequences of the rise of inequality and the labour market deregulation for the delegitimization of the political system prior to the 2015 election.

Constituting a Political Field in Russia: An Empirical Analysis

Liudmila Philippova, Sergey Patrushev, Tamara Pavlova

Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation

The concept of political field – a public space of dialogue and conflict over existing and alternative projects of common goals and strategic decisions for society – is used as a methodological tool in studying the institutional environment of politics. Political field is constituted through interrelated processes of institutionalization – elaboration of rules and organizational structures, and politicization – manifestation of social contradictions and realization of actors’ political subjectness. Forming of political field is indicated by the following: emergence and ideological expression of political identities (cleavages); increase in individual and collective participation; institutionalization of conflict and dialogue between citizens, as well as between citizens and the state; legal universalization of norms and procedures of interaction within political community. Shaping of modern politics’ institutional environment is facilitated by the deliberative practices in which civic orientations and values, as well as norms, rules and strategies, are produced.

In the paper the conditions for constitution of political field in contemporary Russia are analyzed. According to the data of state-wide survey (FCTAS RAS, 2018), in the majority of respondents’ view, politics is replaced by activity within the non-political and essentially deformalized “zone of power”. A minority demonstrates a normative understanding of politics, corresponding to the ideal-typical construct of political field. The survey results also helped to assess the prospects for the implementation of deliberative practices, which can potentially overcome limitations of the zone of power and facilitate the formation of political field.

The research is supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project No. 17-03-00446).