Berättade liv, berättat Polen : en etnologisk studie av hur högutbildade polacker gestaltar identitet och samhälle

by Wolanik Boström, Katarzyna

Abstract (Summary)
The study takes its point of departure in the notions of life story, narrativity and context. It is based on extensive life story interviews with well-educated professionals in Poland – academics, teachers, managers, physicians, artists – during the period of transformation (or transition) from ”real socialism” to democracy and a market economy. The aim is to analyse the multilayered process of constructing a personal identity, as the narrators interweave stories about their lives with images of history and society. The central approach is narrative analysis, focusing on the interview interaction as well as the wider cultural, societal and political context in which the self-presentation takes place, and which it simultaneously creates. Concepts of cultural and paradigmatic narratives are combined with a gender perspective and selected terms from Pierre Bourdieus theory of practice. The narrators’ life experiences are shaped and evaluated in an implicit dialogue with cultural narratives of ideal biographies, professional careers, gender roles and family models in Poland during socialism and the transformation. In family background stories, the ancestors’ gendered biographies are depicted in relation to the underlying paradigm of the romantic-patriotic tradition. In childhood stories, the evaluation models used are psychological, social and based on political correctedness. The interviewees often shape their nostalgic, bitter and ambivalent memories against a background of the power relations between the family and the state, using nostalgia, dark rhetorics and a well-established genre of coping strategies during the socialism. In narratives about formal school-education during the socialist period, two paradigms are seen as highly incongruous: the intellectual-elitistic tradition and the socialistic citizen-schooling. Also stories of being a part of both formal and oppositional organisations and networks are told. In narratives about careers and working life, the pride in doing a good work is prevalent, but the narrators also depict complications in the professional paradigm due to the proliferation of politicised and informal power relations; en influence still lasting during the transformation period. The troubled issues of legitimacy, status and economy are discussed. In stories about close relationships, there is an underlying paradigm of love, marrital happiness and being a good parent, even though the stories follow a variety of plots. The evaluations become complex and sometimes contradictory. By presenting their life-experience in a proud, ambivalent, defensive or ironic way, the narrators reproduce, deconstruct and challenge the dominant cultural narratives, shaping their unique personal paradigms.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; History and philosophy subjects; Ethnology; Ethnology; Poland; transformation; transition; life story; narrativity; narrative identity; biography; well-educated strata; proffessionals; intelligentsia; family; gender; social relationships; childhood; education; school system; everyday-life; proffessional life; work; career; social circles; field; informal relations; legitimacy; capital; distinctions; socialism; communism; post-communism; Etnologi; Ethnology; etnologi


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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