Adam Mrozowicki is a sociologist. He has a habilitation in sociology from the University of Wroclaw (2016) and a PhD in Social Sciences from the Catholic University of Leuven (2009).Since 2009 he has been employed at the Institute of Sociology, University of Wroclaw. His academic interests concern the sociology of work, comparative industrial relations and critical social realism. He is currently a partner in the NCN-DFG research project PREWORK Young precarious workers in Poland and Germany: a comparative sociological study on working and living conditions, social consciousness and civic engagement.
Labour and Nationalism in Poland: Exploring the (Missing) Links
Authors: Justyna Kajta & Adam Mrozowicki
Since the last few years, we can observe growing presence and activity of nationalist organizations in Poland and elsewhere in Europe. The aim of this paper is to discuss the basis of such mobilization. The explanations of the emergence of nationalism in many European countries can broadly be grouped into two types: economic-type and cultural type. In this paper, our question is what kind of explanation suits better the Polish case. The basic dilemma addressed can be summarized into questions: is the new nationalist movement a voice of ‘disfranchised’ population reflecting the subsequent waves of precarisation? Or, perhaps, the new nationalist movement is driven predominantly by non-economic factors and sentiments and represented by a wide array of participants coming from various strata and classes and the links between the nationalist movements and labour movements remain weak? Following a brief discussion of the theoretical background and the Polish context, we discuss the results of the analysis of biographical-narrative interviews (30) with the participants of Polish nationalist movement, as well as selected results of NCN-DFG funded project PREWORK on young precarious workers in Poland and Germany. We also refer to our own research on workers and trade unions in Poland in 2002-2016 and present some evidence on the scope of cooperation between trade unions with right-wing and left-wing political organisations. The analysis of the interviews with far-right activists suggests the new nationalist movement in Poland groups various anti-liberal forces and channels their discontent in a discourse of cultural exclusion while veiling the heterogenous economic situation of its members and possible class-based demands. Economic insecurity becomes a favourable ground for such an exclusionary discourse in a context in which the forces of labour are weak and fragmented and political discourse legitimates the lack of the left-wing alternatives. However, based on our research and survey data, we cannot support the thesis about the consistent right-wing turn in the political orientations of young people in Poland. Instead, it can be concluded that the economic and political attitudes of young people remain rather ambivalent and heterogeneous, and the most typical is the rejection of politics as such. While the ‘anti-systemic’ and anti-establishment views are clearly present in the narratives collected, their far-right framing remains rather rare even in the narratives of the core activists studied.