Individualism and the Rise of Democracy in Poland
Title Details

368 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

5 colour, 2 b/w illus.

Series: Rochester Studies in East and Central Europe

Series Vol. Number: 31

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Individualism and the Rise of Democracy in Poland

by Tomek Grabowski

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
A fascinating story of the rise of individualism in the formerly German Western Territories of Poland after World War II and how this new culture powered Poland's democratic-capitalist development.

What does it take for a traditional society based on the primacy of the group over the individual to change into one where the autonomous individual is the most valued actor? How does this individualism in turn shape the possibilities of democratic politics? In this provocative book, author Tomek Grabowski argues that for liberal democracy to be sustainable, a prior breakthrough to individualism is often necessary, but that individualist revolutions are among the rarest in history. They require an unlikely confluence of three distinct historical processes-a large-scale uprooting of society, a frontier experience, and a process of civic nation building-in order to succeed.

Grabowski illustrates this logic of a cultural breakthrough by focusing on the fascinating case of Poland, a country that was transformed, in the span of seventy years, from an archaic and peripheral polity into a vital component of the liberal-democratic West. The little known but central building blocks of Poland's individualist revolution included the uprooting of populations induced by the World War II, the chaotic frontier conditions that accompanied mass resettlement of the formerly German Western Territories, and the subsequent civic-educational efforts by the Catholic Church among the Polish settlers in the region. Drawing on a wealth of sources, from settlers' memoirs to contemporary interviews, Individualism and the Rise of Democracy in Poland breaks new ground with respect to both Poland's recent history and a larger cultural history of the West.
Introduction
Part One: Individualism and Social Theory
Chapter 1: Four Discourses of Individualism
Chapter 2: Individualism Reconsidered
Chapter 3: Theories of Social Individuation and A Way Forward
Part Two: Individualism and Democracy in Poland
Chapter 4: The Democratic Promise of Western Poland
Chapter 5: Individualism Disaggregated: The Wrocław and Łódź Elites in A Cultural Perspective
Part Three: Rupture and Reintegration
Chapter 6: Rupture, 1945-1948
Chapter 7: The Communist Party and the Taming of the Frontier, 1949-1955
Chapter 8: A Quasi-Reformation: The Catholic Church in the Western Territories, 1945-1956
Chapter 9: The Socializers, 1965-1980
Conclusion: The Resilience of Individualism
Appendix 1: Selected Socioeconomic Development Indicators for Wrocław and Łódź at the Beginning of the Democratic Era (1994)
Appendix 2: Interview Questionnaire for Sorting Out Individual and Corporate Identities
Appendix 3: List of Interviewees together with Their Classification into Two Main Identity Types
Index

TOMEK GRABOWSKI (PhD, Berkeley) is an independent scholar and a democratic activist in Poland.

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February 2023

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Title Details

368 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

5 colour, 2 b/w illus.

Series: Rochester Studies in East and Central Europe

Series Vol. Number: 31

Imprint: University of Rochester Press