Changes in Perception of Success and Agency in Poland: An Analysis Based on Two Kinds of Longitudinal Data

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Weronika BORUC, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Danuta ZYCZYNSKA-CIOLEK, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Marta MIESZCZANEK, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
The last 30 years brought extreme changes to Polish society. Political transition from authoritarianism to democracy in 1989 influenced the lives of Polish citizens in both private and public spheres. Other processes observed worldwide, such as globalization or technological development, also had an impact on everyday life of Poles, their beliefs, values and attitudes. In this paper we focus on changes of perception of success and agency, reflected in two types 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.