Accepted Paper:

Poland's post-socialist generation: interrogating generations, "posts" and uncertainties  

Author:

Kinga Pozniak (University of Western Ontario)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the experiences, subjectivities, strategies and possibilities on the part of Poland’s post-socialist generation, focusing especially on the context of work. It also problematizes and interrogates the concepts of post-generation and uncertainty.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the experiences, subjectivities, strategies, and possibilities on the part of Poland's post-socialist generation, focusing especially on the context of work. In Poland, socialism's collapse constitutes a major rupture which delineates those who have substantial life experiences - and memories of them - from those who do not. Young Poles are popularly seen as having opportunities unparalleled to those of their elders, but also as facing new challenges such as lack of job security. These views are created and reinforced in part by narratives pertaining to the socialist past: while hegemonic accounts depict the socialist period as a time of repression, resistance and inefficiencies, alternative accounts highlight the stability and certainty of the social safety net which has since eroded. Nonetheless, young people's impressions of the socialist past are mostly negative, and they see little use for it in addressing current issues. This paper draws on the work of Abrams (1980), Reulecke (2008) and Kertzer (1982) to problematize and interrogate the category of post-generations. It argues that while watershed historical moments lead to the creation of new generations, generations are both constructed as well as reflected through their different characteristics. Furthermore, there are both overlaps between generations, as well as cohort differences within them. Lastly, the paper interrogates the concept of uncertainty, suggesting that young people who have grown up in what their elders deem to be a prolonged period of uncertainty may perceive this state of things as the norm, rather than an aberration from it (cf. Markowitz 2000, Roberts 2003).

Panel W059
Political ruptures and political subjectivities: how do young generations make sense of their world in a context of uncertainty?