Changes in Perception of Success and Agency in Poland: An Analysis Based on Two Kinds of Longitudinal Data
First, we use data from POLPAN panel survey conducted every 5 years since 1988 on a large representative sample of adult Poles. Second, we analyse unstructured biographical interviews with a group of the oldest POLPAN panel respondents. In result we obtain a unique combination of quantitative and qualitative data containing information concerning the same individuals which allows us to simultaneously take advantage of two kinds of longitudinal studies: a long-term panel study and retrospective biographical interviews.
The comparison of the two sources of information allows us to enrich substantive analyses, but also makes us face some divergences. As Baczko-Dombi and Wysmułek (2016) proved and our analyses confirmed, the POLPAN survey data show an increase in significance given to meritocratic aspects of success (such as “hard work”) over time. The retrospective biographical data gathered from the oldest POLPAN respondents suggest that age also influences perception of life success and its determinants. Moreover, some categories used in the survey tool for defining the most important determinants of life success are almost completely absent in the biographical narratives. In our paper, we reflect on possible sources of discrepancies and on benefits brought by using two types of data described above.