Dynamic Class and Stratification in Poland

A new book, Dynamic Class and Stratification in Poland, forthcoming from CEU Press, takes the long view. Written by a team of authors from the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, including Irina Tomescu-Dubrow, Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, Henryk Domanski, Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow, Zbigniew Sawinski, and Dariusz Przybysz, this book is about changes to the social structure in Poland from the Communist era to the present. We, the authors, focus on class and stratification, two key facets of the social structure that best explain, as Gerhard Lenski famously put it, “who gets what and why.”

Our core concepts are rooted in the classic sociological literature on class and stratification, in Poland and abroad. We define class as occupationally-based groups that maneuver within the economic markets. Classes principally revolve around ownership relations and control over labor, including skills. Defining stratification as structured inequality with respect to scarce and valued resources, we focus on formal education, occupational rank, and job income.

Dynamic social structure begs the question: If stratification refers to enduring inequalities, how are social stratification structures simultaneously stable and dynamic? We argue that even during extreme societal transformations, key features of social life, class especially, have long-lasting, stratifying effects. Similarly, mechanisms of differentiation embedded in class and stratification, such as mobility and attainment, are potent explanations for how inequalities structure and restructure.

We use a variety of survey data, including the Polish Panel Survey (POLPAN 1988 -2013), the longest running panel survey in Central and Eastern Europe, and one of the longest in the world. In addition to our own analyses, we summarize the best in quantitative research that appeared in numerous Polish and English language publications since World War Two. This book is the first of its kind, as none other, in Polish or English, has linked Poland’s State Socialist past with the present using survey data on class and inequality.

To explain how the relationship between class and stratification changed through time, we present theoretical and empirical analyses that deal with the following main research questions:

Class and stratification: What has been the impact of the economic and political system in different periods on the class structure? How does the relationship between class and stratification change over-time?

Social mobility and attainment: How did the relationship between social origins and social destinations change over time? How did radical social change impact class mobility and educational attainment?

Occupational differentiation: What is the role of occupational differentiation in maintaining social inequality? Is the occupational hierarchy stable over time?

Class analyses: To what extent does the relationship between class and stratification differ for men and women? How does class align with political behavior after 1989?

We wrote this book because we feel that there are valuable lessons to be learned from linking past to present. Classic issues of class, stratification, mobility, and attainment have endured decades of radical social change. These concepts remain valid even when society tries to eradicate them. The theories retain their explanatory power, though the details shift with the times. Most contemporary class and stratification studies do not age well, as scholars tend to forget that what they are studying has, empirically speaking, deep historical roots. While some would be eager to shed the classic issues of the past to forge what they believe is a new path, this book is a reminder that history continually informs the present.

Table of Contents

Part I: Class and Stratification

Chapter 1: Polish Sociology and Investigations into Class and Stratification in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Chapter 2: Class Structure and Social Stratification in Poland from the 1970s to the 2010s

Part II: Mobility and Attainment

Chapter 3: Social Mobility and Systemic Changes in Class Structure: Analyzing Inflow-Outflow Tables with Different Origin and Destination Categories

Chapter 4: Social Mobility in Education and Occupation, 1982 – 2006

Chapter 5: Systemic Changes and Inequality in Access to Education, 1972 – 2008

Chapter 6: Determinants of Educational Inequality before and after the Systemic Change

Part III: Occupational Differentiation

Chapter 7: Occupational Classifications in Poland since the 1970s

Chapter 8: Changes in Occupational Prestige, 1958 – 2008

Part IV: Class Analyses

Chapter 9: Class, Gender and the Economic Crisis from an Intersectional Perspective

Chapter 10: Twenty Years of Class Voting in Poland, 1991 – 2011

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