RECON Online Working Paper 2011/05

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Re-constructing Polish Identity

Searching for a New Language


Olga Brzezińska, Beata Czajkowska and David Skully (Jagiellonian University)



In this paper we examine the subjective perceptions of identity of Polish university students. We observe an unprecedented identity shift: from a unitary Polish identity to a nested identity where Polishness is embedded in a larger European identity. Respondents distance themselves from the traditional narrative casting Poland as a perpetual victim charged with a religious mission. The emerging reconstructed narrative views Poland in a comparative, mostly European, perspective. It combines personal elements of Polishness (language, landscape, food, celebrations) with universal values – freedom, equality, diversity, and protection of the rights of others. Thus being both Polish and European is grounded in a shared (diverse) culture and shared universal human values; it is not perceived in political terms or governance framework. This paper is a companion study to a comparative research project conducted in 2009 in Germany, Hungary and Poland which examines Polish university students’ subjective perceptions of democratic order as spelled out in the RECON models. Rather than exploring our respondents’ perceptions of political legitimacy, in this paper we focus on the analysis of the transformation of Polish collective identity.




European Identity — Identity — Nationality — Poland — Political Science


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