In today’s politics the word “elite” circulates as a derogatory term, associated with arrogance, snobbishness and alienation from the “common people”. Many representatives of elite groups, including powerful politicians and billionaires, carefully avoid such self-description, trying to stress their democratic views and/or working-class background. “Elite” has became a useful shorthand for exclusion and the abuse of power, and the anti-elitist language has been promoted by both: the right-populist parties and movements, who claim that people can be empowered only by toppling the “liberal elites,” and by the left, who accuses economic and political elites of destroying the planet and democracy. The problem of unequal access to power, resources and voice is being increasingly addressed not only in politics and economy, but also in civil society as some civil society organizations have become influential political actors in their own right, with considerable power and resources at their disposal. Analyses of the educational and class background of the leaders of civil society organizations show patterns similar to economic and political elites, such as a tendency to exclude women and people from ethnic minorities or economically disadvantaged groups. This panel aims to discuss new research on elites and the rise of anti-elitist discourses, and modes of organization and mobilization in contemporary Poland and in Europe, from a sociological perspective. We invite analyses which are based on up-to-date empirical studies and/or offer new theoretical perspectives on elites, counter-elites and anti-elitism in contemporary Poland and beyond. The questions we aim to discuss include: a) what qualities, networks and values characterize elites in contemporary societies, and how are they (re)produced; b) to what extent do various elite groups interact or even overlap; c) by whom, on what grounds and with what effects are elites challenged and concentration of power and resources contested; and d) what mechanisms and processes lead to elite consolidation or elite contestations across countries and internationally, and e) what are the consequences of elite existence, reproduction, consolidation and contestation for contemporary societies?
Elites and anti-elitism in contemporary Europe. Struggles over power and voice in the populist moment
Organizacja: Elżbieta Korolczuk (Södertörn University / UW), Håkan Johansson (Lund University)
V 17.09, 11:00-12:30
Miejsce: WYDZIAŁ LINGWISTYKI UW, Sala 1.026
Słowa kluczowe: anti-elitism, civil society, elites, populism, social change
Referaty w części 1, pasmo V 17.09, 11:00-12:30
Emergent centralization. Financial elites, new policymakers, and the energy market in the Visegrad group
While EU Institutions and Member States mobilize their resources to achieve the green transition goals, new elites are emerging. The increasing flow of renewable energy-related investment funds and EU-wide drive toward competitive market mechanism attracts the capital holders, private financial institutions The dominant position of state-controlled vertically integrated undertakings is being challenged, dynamically reshaping the structure of the power relations within the energy sector. Three crucial tendencies can be distinguished: green transition, liberal centralization of the market, and continuous transnationalization of capital. Simultaneously, third countries, such as Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China, directly or indirectly participate in the energy market to fulfil their geopolitical goals within the energy sector. Visegrad Group countries, historically and politically dependent, both from the Varieties of Capitalism perspective and energy-wise, from fossil fuel imports, are dynamically restructuring their power generation mix, becoming and fascinating entanglement of emerging and decaying political, economic and social elites.
The research material consists of in-depth interviews with representatives of the Visegrad Group energy sector elites: National Regulatory Authorities and Transmission System Operators, as well as wholesale traders and domiant suppliers, active on the energy market. The crucial audiences, capital conversions and strategies of crucial energy market actors are analyzed in the context of continuous institutional evolution within the EU green transition legal framework. Actors skillfully balance between practices of capital conversion, providing an opportunity to accumulate the different types of capital, and legitimization of their position within the energy sector.
The qualitative research material is supplemented by quantitative analysis of overlapping position and relational graphs of the dominant undertaking within the Visegrad Group energy sector. Networks analysis help to identify complex relations, narrowing the gap between technical, political, economic, and legal approaches. The obtained results allow to position the dynamics of the energy field in the wider context of changes within Visegrad financial markets.
Violence and politics. Assassination of the Mayor of Gdańsk and the Polish populist counterrevolution
The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the radicalisation process of the political discourse around the Mayor of Gdansk, Paweł Adamowicz. The timeframe is marked, on the one hand, by the retreat from liberal democracy called counter-revolution carried out by the populist camp of the United Right in 2015. This process culminates in the assassination of the Mayor of Gdansk in January 2019.
This case is important not only because of the extreme form of politically motivated violence. Its analysis allows us to see the key elements of the political repertoire with which the process of politically motivated radicalisation has been set in motion. In the debate around the person of President Adamowicz, all the major political conflicts of illiberal democracy were concentrated: The anti-immigration/anti-refugee campaign, the campaign against the largest charity in Poland and Europe (WOŚP), the conflict around radical right-wing circles (ONR), the conflict around the reform of the judiciary in Poland, the conflict around the politicisation of public museums and the memory politics (Westerplatte, the Second World War Museum, the European Solidarity Centre, the attitude towards the German past of Gdansk/Danzig) and finally the conflict around progressive policies (integration of migrants and LGBT+ communities).
The analysis of the aforementioned topics, around which the conflict between Adamowicz as supporter of liberal democracy and counterrevolutionaries intensified, reveals the mechanisms of the escalation of authoritarian tendencies in contemporary Polish politics (Heitmeyer’s model of layers of escalation) with the central figure of anti-elitism and the accompanying process of alienation of the politician’s persona in the public sphere, and finally the creation of the image of a public enemy and psychopolitics saturated with emotions of hatred, which constitute a dangerous potential for the outbreak of physical violence.
The politics of counterknowledge. Forming new elites in contemporary Poland.
The anti-gender movement seeks not only political influence but also epistemic power (Korolczuk 2020, Paternotte and Verloo 2021). To this end the ultraconservative actors challenge the validity of gender studies and non-discriminatory education, attack scholars who focus on gender and sexuality, and aim to change the curricula that are not in line with ultraconservative worldview. The goal, however, is not only to dismantle existing academic institutions and limit academic freedom, but to establish new bodies and practices of knowledge production, and form a new intellectual elite, effectively opposing the existing liberal and left-leaning one. Thus, the anti-gender movement promotes its own intellectual authorities, produces conservative knowledge – a counterknowledge – on gender and sexuality, and aims to gain visibility in existing institutions of higher learning as well as to establish new ones. To this end ultraconservative organizations and religious fundamentalists cooperate closely with right-wing politicians and conservative intellectuals on the national and transnational level. One example of such cooperation is Collegium Intermarium dubbed the ”Free University of Central Europe”, which was established in Warsaw in 2021 by Ordo Iuris Institute Fundation, with the organizational and financial support from the Polish government and state-own companies.
This paper analyzes how counterknowledge on gender and sexuality is being produced and legitimized in the Polish context. It shows how the anti-gender movement promotes and legitimizes counterknowledge and expertise through politicization of knowledge and by forming and promoting new elite of experts and knowledge producers: educators, lawyers trained in human rights and experts who have skills in managing civil society organizations. The conclusions are based on qualitative analysis of various texts including official documents, media coverage of anti-gender campaigns, social media contents, parliamentary debates and interviews with various actors (both progressive and conservative), as well as the analysis of events (conferences, public debates, openings) in the sphere of education and knowledge production organized by the anti-gender movement and/or right-wing populist politicians.
The right to be disobedient
Urszula Szczepankowska-Bednarek, Izabela Sakson-Szafrańska, Małgorzata Owczarek
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
Acts of civil disobedience do not occur in a vacuum. They need a point of reference – law, order, an opponent (who should not be confused with the enemy). The opponent can be both, the government and large corporations, or a group of citizens, who constitute the majority. Therefore the act of civil disobedience takes place in relation to the established social order, against specific actions of decision-makers, which in the opinion of the “disobedient individuals” violate values that are essential to them.
An interesting aspect in this subject is also the initiation of processes of transforming the relationship between non-state actors and the governments. This process has important implication for the legitimacy of governments on one hand and for claims to sovereignty on the other. “Borderline” situations put a strain on socio-political cohesion in many countries. The diverse effects of the crisis on key levels (axes) (e.g. rich versus poor, city versus countryside, region versus region, citizen versus
migrant) can exacerbate existing socio-political divisions.
The space in which there is social opposition is constantly changing. In addition to more traditional acts of civil disobedience, such as mass social protests, some initiatives use new technologies (hacktivism), including DDoS attacks on government websites or hacking accounts of influential officials on social media.
Changes taking place in this area require constant analysis and asking questions about the activity of citizens and their impact on the legal order and social system.
In the presentation, the authors will analyze issues: How much is a revolution in civil disobedience and rebellion in civil disobedience? Is civil disobedience a collective act? Is inaction also making a choice? What actions are taken by non-institutional forms of resistance? What is the role of new technologies in contemporary acts of civil disobedience? Against whom / what are activists rebelling? Who is currently the “addressee” of acts of civil disobedience?
Party cohesion and survival in Central and Eastern Europe
współautorzy: Agnieszka Kwiatkowska, Hubert Plisiecki
Party survival is an important component of parliamentary democracy that enables stability of the political system and policy implementation. The disappearance of a certain party from parliament may leave some social groups without sufficient political representation and decrease electoral alternatives (Zur 2019). At the same time, electoral volatility is quite a common phenomenon, especially across the new democracies (Mainwaring & Torcal 2006; Cyr 2016). Approximately 70 percent of political parties that emerged since 1945 failed to keep their seats in parliament (Zur 2019: 960). Unstable political systems of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) create additional risks for party survival. The region is characterized by high levels of electoral volatility that appear when voting is switching dramatically from one election to the other (Cyr 2016). The disappointed voters could easily change their party preferences in the following elections, especially in the context of the absence of a strong mainstream party, which puts all parties at risk of disappearing (Tavits 2006; Dalton & Weldon 2007; Zur 2019).
Cohesion of political parties is one of the important factors determining parties’ survival as well as their chances of impacting public policy (Andeweg, Thomassen 2010), gathering supporters and resources and achieving durability and resistance to internal and external shocks (Harmel et al. 2018). The level of legislative party cohesiveness in parliamentary systems impacts on governments’ ability to endure (Saafeld 2009), influences parties coalition behavior (Pedersen 2010) and ensure smoothness of a legislative process. For the opposition parties, it allows for the efficient control of the government. However, there are several cross-pressures regarding the submission of individual MPs to the party line, including contradictory expectations from represented electoral constituencies or their plans of obtaining public offices in the future. The party can reduce this tension by allowing MPs to express their positions in the debate, at the same time obliging them to cooperate in legislative voting. Therefore, we hypothesize that the parties demonstrating a medium level of coherence in debates and high coherence in legislative voting will have a lower risk of internal splits and higher chances of survival. In order to test this hypothesis, we analyse parliamentary speeches and data on legislative voting of political parties in CEE region.
Rządowy program „Rodzina 500 plus” jako przykład ideologicznego cyklu budżetowego: efekty wyborcze dla wyborów parlamentarnych w 2019 roku i wyborów organu wykonawczego gmin w 2018 roku
W wielu krajach elity polityczne tak na szczeblu centralnym jak i lokalnym, w celu utrzymania i zwiększenia swego poparcia ingerują w dochody i wydatki budżetowe ze względu na cykl wyborczy. W przypadku starych demokracji takie zachowania rządzących mogą spotykać się z dezaprobatą suwerena, gdzie indziej, suweren nagradza poparciem przedwyborcze wzrosty wydatków i obniżki danin publicznych. Takim przykładem jest Polska, gdzie wdrożony od kwietnia 2016 roku element wydatkowego cyklu ideologicznego w postaci rządowego programu „Rodzina 500 plus” (500+) może dostarczać dodatkowego wsparcia dla kandydatów Zjednoczonej Prawicy (ZP) w wyborach parlamentarnych w 2019 roku i w wyborach do stanowisk wykonawczych gmin w 2018 roku. Każde 1,4 mln złotych wydatkowane w ramach 500+ do końca 2017 powodowało jedno dodatkowe urodzenie, a do połowy 2019 roku program nie wpływał już na nowe urodzenia, dlatego można przyjąć, że skutków 500+ należy poszukiwać raczej w sferze poparcia politycznego, a nie demografii (Bartnicki, Alimowski 2022). Wobec powyższego przyjęto, że na poziomie gmin, liczba rodzin beneficjentów 500+ i liczba dzieci w tych rodzinach, na które pobierane jest 500+ wpływać będzie na poparcie dla (kandydatów) ZP w sugerowanych wyborach. W celu weryfikacji hipotezy stosowane są liniowe modele mieszane z efektami stałymi i losowymi. Zmienną zależną w przypadku wyborów organu wykonawczego gmin w 2018 roku jest poparcie w I turach tych wyborów, a w przypadku wyborów parlamentarnych, poparcie dla partii na poziomie gminy. Zmienna niezależna, to liczba rodzin w gminie pobierających 500+ (przy uwzględnieniu liczby dzieci, na które pobierane jest świadczenie). Efekt losowy ustalony jest na poziomie powiatu. Ponadto zastosowany został model regresji liniowej OLS z interakcją pomiędzy zmienną oznaczającą liczbę rodzin pobierających świadczenie 500+ a statusem inkumbenta. W modelu OLS zmienną zależną jest poparcie w I turze wyborów organu wykonawczego gmin w 2018 roku, a zmiennymi niezależnymi są cechy kandydatów i cechy gmin.
Bartnicki, Sławomir i Maciej Alimowski. 2022. „W poszukiwaniu demograficznych efektów rządowego programu ‘Rodzina 500 Plus’ za pomocą Bayesowskich Strukturalnych Szeregów Czasowych”. Studia Socjologiczne, w druku.
G54 Elites and anti-elitism in contemporary Europe. Struggles over power and voice in the populist moment
G62 Ageing in European ‘risk societies’ between Covid-19, digitization and climate change