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Title [sv]
Myterna om det svaga post-socialistiska civilsamhället under granskning: ”Oväntade” allianser och mobiliseringar inom fältet av bostadsaktivism i Polen
Title [en]
Challenging the myths of weak civil society in post-socialist settings: ‘Unexpected’ alliances and mobilizations in the field of housing activism in Poland
Abstract [en]
There are many gaps in the scientific literature on social movements dealing with housing during state socialism and after the regime change. Along with the gaps, there are also partly misleading views of the state of the civil society and social movements in post-socialist settings. Studies on social movements and civil society mobilizations in the post-socialist context tend to use tools and yardsticks developed in the West that applied on the conditions in post-socialist societies result in misleading and outdated interpretations. These interpretations have resulted in a conventional view of civil society and social movement activity in post-socialist societies as “weak”, “uncivil” or suffering of “civilizational incompetence” (Howard 2003; Kotkin 2010; Sztompka 2004). However, this view on the functioning of civil society has recently been nuanced and new research demonstrates that there are frequent mobilizations taking place in the post-socialist countries that are either not taken into account, or misinterpreted due to the use of blunt theoretical or methodological tools (Jacobsson & Saxonberg 2013; Ekiert & Kubik 2014; Ekiert & Foa 2012). The argument I would like to put forward in this project, by focusing on Poland, is that there has been a thriving activity in the sphere of civil society and social movements in the last decade that has been under-studied or studied with the help of tools developed for other contexts. In the project I would like to show that the picture is more nuanced and that the assumptions on the lack of grassroots connections and the dominance of friendship and family connections (and thus an inability to cooperate with “unknown” others) in the collective action field are not fully adequate. This I will do by studying previously under-studied social movements dealing with housing: the tenants’ movement and the squatting movement in Poland, and how the two- rather diverse movements- cooperate. The contribution of this project will be both theoretical and empirical. Its objective is 1) to go against the conventional view of weak civil society and passivity of collective actors in present Poland by analyzing two different social movements created from the grassroots and actively cooperating with each other, and 2) to fill in the empirical gap on housing-related collective mobilizations in post-socialist context and give an updated view. The project also aims at 3) studying these mobilizations’ dynamic in an empirically-close, qualitative and detailed way than offered in previous literature (usually the quantitative ‘protest-event-analysis’) and at 4) filling in the gaps on the more informal or un-typical forms of civic engagement and collective action, and by doing so the ambition is to contribute to the theoretical discussion on the functioning/definition of the civil society and collective actors in post-socialist settings. The objective of this research will be twofold. One the one hand it will examine the development of two grassroots movements (in the field of housing) in an understudied setting, focusing on their demands, action repertoires and the conditions under which they function. On the other, it will analyze the role of different mechanisms for cooperation and cross-movement alliance formation in the light of squatters’ and tenants’ recent (and shared) successes. Specific research questions that the project will answer are: • How and why did the cooperation between the squatting movement and the tenants’ movement emerge? • What relations characterize the cooperation and what facilitated them? • What specificities in the local context condition the activity and collaborative action of squatters’ and tenants’ movements? The theoretical ambition of this project would be to challenge the common definition of post-socialist civil society and nuance it by discussing the case of tenants’ and squatters’ activism and by demonstrating their close links (and the mechanisms behind them). The empirical basis of the project will be semi-structured interviews with activists in the squatters’ and the tenants’ movement in Warsaw. The choice of interview data would provide activists’ perceptions of their engagement, on how they perceive the activity of their squats/organizations, but also the more informal or personal features of their engagement, social relations and cooperation.
Publications (4 of 4) Show all publications
Polanska, D. V. & Piotrowski, G. (2016). Poland: Local differences and the importence of cohesion. Baltic Worlds, IX(1-2), 46-56
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Poland: Local differences and the importence of cohesion
2016 (English)In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955, E-ISSN 2001-7308, Vol. IX, no 1-2, p. 46-56Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Two Polish cities, Warsaw and Poznań, are studied in the article to examine how external structures are handled and used by squatters in these two settings. The aim is to analyze opportunity structures that condition the emergence and development of squatting and how squatters respond to and utilize these opportunities. Our ambition is to understand why squatting has developed differently in the two cities by emphasizing the duration and cohesion of the squatting scene as pivotal for the different trajectories of squatting. It is argued in the article that the durability of the squatting environment abates tendencies to open the squatting scene to external coalitions and establish more institutionalized forms of political struggle.

Keywords
squatting, Poland, opportunity structures, cohesion, durability
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-31064 (URN)1561/42/2011 (Local ID)1561/42/2011 (Archive number)1561/42/2011 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2185/311/2014The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 1561/42/2011Swedish Research Council, 2010–1706
Available from: 2016-11-03 Created: 2016-11-03 Last updated: 2019-08-28Bibliographically approved
Piotrowski, G. & Polanska, D. V. (2016). Radical Urban Movements in Poland: the case of squatting. Miscellanea Anthropologica et Sociologica, 17(1), 53-69
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Radical Urban Movements in Poland: the case of squatting
2016 (English)In: Miscellanea Anthropologica et Sociologica, ISSN 2084-2937, E-ISSN 2354-0389, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 53-69Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Radical social movements are more and more often the subject of academic inquiry, where their agenda, identity-building processes and repertoires of action are examined vis a vis the dominant discursive opportunity structures. The case study presented in this articleis the squatting movement in Poland. We interpret this movement, its actions and in particular alliance-building strategies, through the perspective of radical flanks of broader urban social movements environment.

Keywords
squatting, post-socialism, urban movements, Poland
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-31069 (URN)10.5604/20842937.1212304 (DOI)1561/42/2011 (Local ID)1561/42/2011 (Archive number)1561/42/2011 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2185/311/2014The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 1561/42/2011
Available from: 2016-11-03 Created: 2016-11-03 Last updated: 2019-08-28Bibliographically approved
Polanska Vergara, D. (2015). Polish civil society in bloom. Baltic Rim Economies (5), 42-42
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Polish civil society in bloom
2015 (English)In: Baltic Rim Economies, ISSN 1459-9759, no 5, p. 42-42Article, review/survey (Other academic) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Turku: , 2015
Keywords
civil society, Poland
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-28928 (URN)2185/3.1.1/2014 (Local ID)2185/3.1.1/2014 (Archive number)2185/3.1.1/2014 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2185/311/2014Swedish Research Council, 2010-1706
Available from: 2015-12-21 Created: 2015-12-21 Last updated: 2019-06-27Bibliographically approved
Polanska Vergara, D. & Piotrowski, G. (2015). The transformative power of cooperation between social movements: squatting and tenants’ movements in Poland. City, 19(2-3), 274-296
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The transformative power of cooperation between social movements: squatting and tenants’ movements in Poland
2015 (English)In: City, ISSN 1360-4813, E-ISSN 1470-3629, Vol. 19, no 2-3, p. 274-296Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Squatting, or the use of property without the legal permission, and tenants’ activism are under-researched areas, in particular in the post-socialist context. Poland has been pointed out as extraordinary on the map of squatting in post-socialist Europe and a considerable number of tenants’ organizations are active in the country. What is most interesting is that squatters’ and tenants’ activists are forming alliances, despite their obvious differences in their organizational models, social composition, along with the specific motives and goals of their activism. The objective of this article is to examine the relations between the tenants’ and squatting movements in Poland by studying two cities where both movements are established and closely cooperating. In particular we are interested in the transformative power of such cooperation and we assume that cooperation between social movements results in negotiations and transformations of the social movement actors involved. The empirical foundations for this article are 50 interviews, whereof 30 interviews conducted in Warsaw with squatters and tenants’ movement activists and 20 interviews conducted with activists in Poznań. Warsaw and Poznań are, moreover, two Polish cities where the squatting movement is most vibrant and where squatters and tenants have achieved some considerable successes in their activities. The article argues against previous studies emphasizing access to abundant resources and identity alignment as crucial for the mobilization of collective and collaborative action. Instead, it argues that the lack of resources might also be driving social movements towards cooperation, as a kind of compensation. Moreover, our cases demonstrate that ideology and identity alignment in social movements create stagnation with regard to openness towards new allies. We therefore argue that a high degree of identity alignment and ideological consistency might discourage the formation of new alliances.

Keywords
social movement, alliance building, cooperation, squatting, tenants, Poland
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-26802 (URN)10.1080/13604813.2015.1015267 (DOI)2-s2.0-84926364546 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Institutionella begränsningar och kreativa lösningar
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2185/311/2014The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 1561/42/2011Swedish Research Council, 2010-1706
Available from: 2015-04-07 Created: 2015-04-07 Last updated: 2019-08-28Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorPolanska, Dominika
Coordinating organisation
Södertörn University
Funder
Period
2015-01-01 - 2017-12-31
Keywords [sv]
Östersjö- och Östeuropaforskning
Keywords [en]
Baltic and East European studies
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
DiVA, id: project:1745Project, id: 10/2014_OSS