How Does Personal Experience of a Social Change Entail a Theoretical Shift in the Social Sciences? Polish Sociology in Times of Solidarity Social Movement

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Jakub MOTRENKO, University of Warsaw, Poland
Significant social changes (wars, revolutions, important social movements) are total social facts – they remodel social world in many aspects, including the social sciences. In times of turmoil personal experience of researchers is greatly enriched. I am interested in how this enrichment results in the adjustment of the social theory or sometimes even in a fundamental paradigmatic change. My research strategic site is Stefan Nowak’s circle. Nowak was a key figure of Polish sociology of the 1960s and 70s., once called by Lazarsfeld “the best surveyman in Europe”, practitioner and theoretician of positivist sociology. He contributed significantly to the understanding of the Polish post war society under communist regime. The research his students conducted on the Solidarity social movement at the beginning of the 80s as well as their personal experience of this historical time resulted in the immediate reversal of the previous theoretical vector while maintaining the importance of the results. It turned out that antipostitivist sociology particularly well accounted for events happening in Poland. Nowak’s circle – the core of the positivist sociology in the 70s – was transformed into a laboratory of theoretical experiments in the 80s. In my paper I’m going to elaborate on a mechanism of the theoretical shift in sociology in the context of a big social change.