POPREBEL Ethnography Polish Fieldwork

Hi all, in this thread I will be sharing weekly memos, that shed light on what’s happening in my fieldwork.

Case-study outline
Method: digital ethnography, classic ethnography
Research group: users of the Polish-speaking web that engage in online discussions on current topics,
Study overview: In general, in this study, I will provide an in-depth overview of social responses from across the political spectrum to health-related governmental action, politics, and policies during the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, I want to explore the narratives and practices of research participants, who are Polish and were in need of medical treatment during the pandemic, and used the Internet for help or information.**
Fieldwork: Health communication mediascape, which consists of various social networking sites, imageboards, healthcare forums, blogs, and alternative media outlets, among others.

Aims of the study:

  • Collect a number of biographical narratives from research participants in order to see how their political interests are shaped by their day-to-day life, major life events, and general wellbeing.
  • To map Polish digital public sphere to support the understanding of the political debate/discussion dynamics across the Polish speaking-web (and to understand from where the interviewees are coming from, as they are to be ‘recruited’ in those various spaces that represent various demographics).

Research focus

Based on the preliminary findings from the pilot study, the topics of interest are:

  • narratives on Poland being a cardboard state, and related issues,
  • expert and public authority crisis, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic being a most vivid example of changing social dynamics in that regard.
  • picking up on emotions: fear (lęk), anger (gniew), shame (wstyd),
  • polarization: socio-cultural, political, economic,
  • gender issues: predominantly cases of women rights (pay gap, unpaid informal work of women, reproductive rights in Poland (abortion, in-vitro), LGBTQ rights, the so-called “gender ideology” particularly in the context of the EU,
  • generational differences: is C19 strengthening a sense of insecurity in the younger generation, that gets introduced to adulthood in the pandemic times?
  • Catholic church: changing the perception of the church in relation to various controversies, primarily the pedophilia cases, reflection on the oppressive nature of conservative values.

Methodology:
Participant observation in digital public spaces
The role of participant observation will be twofold. First, to locate and map various spaces of discussion across the Polish-speaking web to aid the understanding of the digital public sphere in Poland. Second, to invite Internet users with diverse backgrounds to take part in the study, either by agreeing to be interviewed, or joining the Edgeryders community to engage in discussions and exchange views.

Digital interviews, either video, voice, or through chats:
Digital interviews play a substantial role in the study, as an addition to the textual analysis of conversations taking place on the Edgeryders platform. Interviews will be focused on life-stories, following the biographical method.

Edgeryders discussions
An interactive research engagement with research participants in discussions on topics of relevance.

Research plan

  • To have minimum 5 interviews by the end of the March, and keep growing that number over the next several months.
  • Invite a number of interviewees to group discussions at the ER platform, starting mid April.
  • Pick a few joint topics that emerge from digital fieldworks in Germany and Czechia and discuss them with ER users across the platform (as in the three Wellbeing subcategories).

Detailed issues to be discussed:

  1. Experiences of accessibility of healthcare services pre-pandemic, in the beginning, and now, in the midst of the 2nd pandemic wave;
  2. Practices and, perhaps, strategies of living with various pandemic restrictions, including ways of using the Web for information.
  3. Questions regarding various pandemic-related policies and politics: (1) Trust towards healthcare authorities and information sources – investigating anti-intellectualist narratives of the conservative right, as well as perceptions of competency and incompetency in general, and in particular amongst healthcare practitioners (ambiguity of facts, medical mistakes, science mistakes, corona skepticism, misinformation); (2) Governmental support to help families, businesses, precarious workers, and economic sectors in crisis – comments on broader consequences of pandemic restrictions and lockdown policies; (3) 2020 presidential elections, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-migration narratives during the pandemic as substitute topics to distract the public from the governmental inability to handle the coronavirus outbreak. (4) Recent reproductive rights protests against the anti-abortion ruling of the Constitutional Court – was the ruling scheduled now because the government hoped the public will not notice preoccupied with the pandemic, or won’t protest because of it, OR, rather, it is itself a distraction from how bad the government is dealing with the pandemic – and that it passed a law that some say will make COVID-19 vaccination obligatory?
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Fieldwork context 01-23.03.
The past weeks were politically turbulent, in relation to the pandemic, mostly, but also otherwise, including scandals related to the ruling party.

  • A major publicity gained the real estate affair regarding Daniel Obajtek, who is a favorite of Kaczyński. Rumors have it he was supposed to be the next prime minister, replacing Mateusz Morawiecki, but the scandal regarding his multiple properties that he suspiciously acquire with a preferential cost over the years. Who is Daniel Obajtek? He is a Law and Justice politician who started as a councilman in a Pcim village (ironically, Pcim is an epitome of a middle-of-nowhere town).
    Though not having a real higher education degree (he bought himself an MBA diploma in his friend’s educational foundation), after being a major of Pcim for 9 years, after PiS gained the majority power in 2015, in 2016 he suddenly became the president of the Agency for Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture (2016-2017), and a member of the supervisory board of Lotos Biofuels, a large state-owned firm (2016-2018), to next become the president of the Energa energy group in 2017–2018, and finally the president of Polski Koncern Naftowy Orlen from 2018, the Polish state oil company, despite having no qualification to hold any of those offices.

  • The Supreme Court controversy: https://oko.press/prokuratura-krajowa-szykuje-nalot-na-sn-zarzuty-groza-malgorzacie-gersdorf-i-sedziom-izby-karnej/

  • Critiques of the government/the ruling party are calling those spectacular examples of party-favouritism a return to communism, using references to famous satirical and comic political commentary from the Polish Republic of People.

  • There is a growing popularity of satirical social media pages/profiles/accounts that offer an ongoing commentary of current political events. They represent a particularly dark sense of humour and attract various age groups, being directed either at millennials or Gen Z, though significantly less so. The role of satirical commentary across the Web seems to play an unprecedented role in engaging Internet users in political commentary - I dived into it over the last week and will be posting notes, and interviews out of those networked spaces.

  • I am observing significant differences in types of citizen political engagement and commentary across social media, depending on the platform used. Broadly speaking, millennials use IG and FB, but to a lesser extent, while opinion leaders of the generation also use YT. Gen Z expresses its political views on IG, to a lesser extend on TikTok, engaging in Facebook political action only when it’s on a large scale.

  • Astra-Zeneca controversies and anti-vaccination protests that happened over the last weekend in Europe where a major topic of discussion across the networked public sphere of the Polish-speaking web. I hope to have convinced

Next fieldnotes will describe those networked spaces that I focused on since the beginning of March and from where my interviewees come from.

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Digital fieldwork definition for the Polish part of the study:

  • Political satire pages on Instagram,
  • Facebook pages of Gazeta Wyborcza and wSieci, which are both popular media outlets and are also antagonizing various political groups around them, which can be seen in vivid discussions under posts,
  • Opinion leaders on how to deal with pandemic economic crisis,
  • Health advice groups on Facebook.

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Fieldwork 23-31.03

CONTEXTS
Public sphere was mostly occupied with a discussion around the Eastern lockdown and related governmental policies:

  • Critique of the Eastern lockdown timeline being from the 27.03 till 09.04, ending conveniently a day before the 11th Smoleńsk catastrophe anniversary --> sparked both anger and laughter.
  • Churches remaining open despite all other places for public gatherings remain closed.
  • A construction of a new energy plant Elektrownia Ostrołęka was suddenly stopped, costing the state 1,3 billion PLN. The plant was supposed to be the last coal-opperating plant to be build in Poland. Local politicians responsible for the investment, and the construction’s management all have strong ties with the Law and Justice party. More on the topic here. The controversy around the construction stoppage made another major financial controversy related to the rule of PiS, expect recent Obajtek controversies, surface yet again - the 70 billion zlotys spent by Jacek Sasin, PiS politician, a vice PM, and a minister of state assets in the second cabinet of the current prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who paid the Polish Post for printing voting cards for the May presidential elections, before it was confirmed whether or not they are postponed.
  • Generally speaking, in march the edge of critique towards the government was focusing on corruption and nepotism, across the political spectrum of the opposition.

INTERVIEW SUMMARIES

:woman:Zuzanna 20.03. Original transcript here.

Interviewee profile:

  • In her late 20s, has a master degree in arts from the Academy of Fine Arts, a sculpture, and a graphic artist.

  • Social media-wise, she is an avid Instagram user, both privately and to promote her work.

  • She struggles with unemployment throughout the pandemic.

  • Left-wing, votes Left.

Main motives in the interview:

Generational differences

  • She talks a lot about generational differences between her grandparents, her parents, her and her brother.

  • She thinks growing up in different times is a key explanation of differences within her family. Her family was undertaking private initiatives during the communist times, was strongly anti-socialist

Globalisation, being part of the EU

  • It’s important as it serves as a guarantee of freedoms for LGBTQ rights, women rights, of the fairness of the judicial system.
  • Open boarders are what makes young Poles more cosmpolitan, and helps them learn languages, through Erasmus program, or freedom to travel across Europe.
  • "We are a part of something bigger, and now, that we know languages no one looks at us like we are from the middle of nowhere".

The role of Church

  • The Church as an oppressive entity that give her traumatic experiences of first communion and needing to confess imagined signs, as she feared if she has no signs that must certainly be something wrong with her.
  • She cannot however sign out of the Catholic Church not to offend her mother’s feelings.

Values

  • She is a family person, and it’s super important to her not to offend anybody in the family, despite various political views in her family.
  • She perceives traditions as important, she likes holidays, including the religious one’s for their family value.
  • She votes left, is a feminist, doesn’t have conservative views regarding sexuality, doesn’t want to have children.
  • For her Polishness means being engaged, lack of indifference.
  • She doesn’t feel connected to the Polish en mass, when she goes to the countryside she feels there like an alien. “It’s hard to feel connected with the Polish naród/nation if one doesn’t feel connected to the Polish countryside, which is a huge part of what the state is”.
  • Her identity revolves around being from Warsaw, from where her family is from, generations on end.

Mass media

  • National television is pure propaganda, and cannot be trusted. She watches it when visiting grandparents, who take on whatever the TVP serves.

  • According to her the national Telewizja Polska = PiS, the Law and Justice Party. Those media are now party media, not independent any more.

Women’s reproductive rights

  • She would like to have an abortion on demand right.

  • She’s worried that the total abortion ban will force women to get abortions illegal, in dangerous conditions, or if they can afford it - go abroad, to Czech or Germany.

  • She’s also worried that this will take a form of Cathilic religious shariat

  • TVP, in her narrative, highlighted that protesting women waznt to burn churches, and Zuzanna’s grandma thought it was true.

Some context: In October 2020, Polish Constitutional Tribute ruled that abortion based on the

After the Strajk Kobiet (Women’s Strike) protests in October 2020, in solidarity with Polish women, women in Germany (Berlin) and Czechia (Praha) decide to set support networked called, Ciocia Basia, and Ciocia Czesia, respectively.

More information on this can be found here: https://krytykapolityczna.pl/kraj/ciocia-czesia-basia-wienia-aborcja/

:woman:Ewelina 23.03. Original transcript here

Interviewee profile:

  • She’s a retired high-school teacher, she taught Polish language.
  • Used to be a party member, in the Ruch Palikota.
  • Votes left, anti-clerical.
  • From Warsaw.
  • Uses Facebook extensively for news.

Main motives in the interview:

The Pandemic

  • She spent most of the pandemic indoors, having help when it comes to shopping from a local volunteer.
  • Her family isolates so she could be visited by them regularly.
  • Perceives governmental policies as ridiculous at times, like regulations regarding the closing of the parks in the early days of the pandemic - and she has a dog that she walks. In the same time, she says that politicians are stupid, not intelligent enough to predict hence plan well ahead, risking lives of many with their policy of turning particular hospitals into covid-only, making it for many to receive treatment on other diseases.
  • Swedish case where the government relayed only on epidemiology experts was the way to go. Interestingly, she doesn’t regret the death of people in the social care houses who died because of the no lockdown politics. She is against lockdown for the sake of the economy.

Healthcare services

  • Corrupted healthcare, lack of coordination, lack of smart spending - money that the state gives to the Church should be all spent on fighting the pandemic.

Vaccine hesitation

  • She believes that people are afraid of vaccines because they don’t know enough, and she did a lot of her research to learn about it.
  • She thinks anti-vaxxers are blind, often fanatic, it’s really hard to convince them - and she tries to do it online.
  • She supports restrictions for those who do not vaccinate.

Church

  • Ewelina was brought up to be secular, he’s doesn’t like the Church.
  • She believes the Church hierarchs run the country, hence **Poland isn’t a secular state. **
  • The Church thrives on illiterate, on those who are not well-read, and don’t get things.
  • Church = PiS = stupid people, yet it wasn’t always like that - wife of Kaczyński’s older brother, both died in the plane crash on the 10.04.2010, wasn’t liked by one of the most influential Polish priests Ojciec Rydzyk.
  • Abortion rights - "we are going back to Medieval Ages, it’s like not believing in the Copernicus’s theory.

Polish state and the politics

  • She’s doesn’t feel represented anymore, as her party is no more. She voted in the presidential election on the Civic Platform Party (centre-right, the core of the opposition in Poland).
  • She believes the Church is a reason why PiS is strong in Poland.
  • Politics are all about who supports whom.

:woman:Ala 24.03, original transcript here

Interviewee’s profile:

  • Ala is an undergraduate student from a village near Olsztyn in the North of Poland, that studies pedagogy and art in Kraków.
  • She used to be very religious, but her bubble “burst” when the abortion protests started in Poland the last year.
  • She would vote for the Left, she is middle class.

Main motives in the interview:

The Church

  • She used to love Church - in secondary school she went through conversion/she felt a calling to become more engaged in the Church and religious life.
  • Throughout the years she remembers that Church’s teaching on abortion and anticonception used to bother her a lot.
  • "I don’t want that faith it that faith does such horrible things".
  • The Church shouldn’t engage in politics.
  • She taught, for a while, that those in the Church who are against LGBT rights and reproductive rights are minority because she was a part of a progressive Catholic youth group.

The State

  • She doesn’t feel represented in the country and thinks about migration - she’s not afraid of her language skills, she’s part of the generation that does not remember Poland not being in the EU.
  • She believes in democracy and the state, although she feels that her generation doesn’t have representation, and worst, doesn’t have political consciousness

Politics

  • She was voting “only not for Duda” (PiS candidate).
  • She thinks younger generations need guidance on how to be more politically active and build political identity:
    "No one taught me how to verify candidates. It wasn’t in schools. Online there isn’t much on the subject either, that teaches how to verify, anything, when it comes to politics. Everybody complaints that I don’t understand and hence I don’t get involved. Or everyone is complaining, that the youth doesn’t understand [politics] and doesn’t get involved. But I am sitting here [at home], and I am trying to understand and get involved, but there is no one to show me how."
  • In the first run of the presidential elections she voted for Robert Biedroń, candidate of the Left, even though she knew he doesn’t have a chance to win, but she wanted to vote for someone that represents her values. In the next round, she voted for Trzaskowski against Duda.
  • After Trzaskowski lost, even though he was so close, and after she got involved in convincing her close ones to vote for him, she was devasted to learn of him losing the race. She felt that she doesn’t “have much to say in this country”.
  • She doesn’t remember someone who she was rooting for won elections. representation
  • She needs her leftist bubble not to get crazy - and that’s from where she gets her information, social media.

Her PiS voting family

  • Her parents are PiS voters - her mother is immune to any arguments for the case of women’s reproductive rights, she’s “very postprl”.
  • She sees her parents as extremely blindfolded, and she is surprised that “even though they grew up in the 80’s, the remember the Marshall law being introduced, they still don’t see that the national TV is propaganda”.

Women rights

  • "In the begging [of the protests] I was just very very angry".
  • "I was sure if there is so much of us going out in the pandemic to the streets, so [they] need to do something"
  • She feels privileged that she can just leave the country if anything happens - because of her family support, her boyfriend, his family, their views.
  • Protests seemed to have united many different people with different political views.

The Pandemic

  • Almost two years of her course went by during the pandemic and she feels like she lost a lot.
  • For her parents their friends and the local community are the sources of information. Her mother was hesitant towards vaccinations, but her aunt who is a nurse convinced her. local authorities and relatives over expert authorities
  • Anti-vaxxers got really scary now, while earlier were an object of ridicule.

:woman:Monika, 22-24.03, original transcript here
Interviewee’s profile

  • Lives in a smaller city, lower middle class.
  • Votes for Hołownia, Catholic lib-dem.
  • Didn’t study, self-taught to be a shop decorator.
  • Lives with her boyfriend, used to vote right, now center-right.
  • She’s around 30 years old.

Main motives in the interview

Women rights

  • She used to vote for PiS, but because of the abortion right, she won’t anymore.
  • She thinks the compromise that was before was a good solution.
  • The sudden decision to have the court decide whether the right to have an abortion is constitutional was a way to cover up something else, but she doesn’t know what. The government didn’t think the backlash will be so huge though - distrust towards the ruling party.
  • The situation with women’s rights in Poland it’s because "the way our mothers and grandmothers were brought up - traditionalism, but new generations are different.
  • She doesn’t agree with feminists who pushes for women to work in coalmines, she likes men to be galant, but doesn’t want women to be perceived, valued based on being mothers/not being them - change in gender roles, expectations.

The Pandemic

  • She appreciates the help of the state, she seems to empathize with it.

Politics and Policies

  • She supports social governmental support, but controlled one, and not raising vat taxes on foods in the shops.
  • She doesn’t feel presented anymore - she was voting for PiS and Konfederacja, before Kaczyński “went crazy”, and so did Konfa

Church

  • PiS doesn’t really support the Church, just to gain votes.
  • PiS and the Church are overly hating of the LGBT, and she doesn’t understand why they are against LGBT adoption rights.

:woman:Justyna 24.03, original transcript here

Interviewee’s profile:

  • A mother of two, with serious health issues in the family.
  • Didn’t want to share the city she leaves in or her profession, but I would suspect she is a middle-lower class from a mid-size Polish city.
  • Her hobby is fast racing motorbikes!
  • She used to vote for PiS, but now supports Szymon Hołownia’s Polska2050, which is a chd party.

Main motives in the interview:

Women rights and protests

  • She thinks what was said, the polarization that came out of it, is a political impasse.
  • There is no space for a debate.
  • Even though she doesn’t agree with all the statements of the Strajk Kobiet, she is devasted with what will happen to the medical progress we have regarding pregnancy health.
  • Even though she’s conservative and practicing Catholic, she believes motherhood is an individual decision - she hard her children very early and was criticized for it.
  • She was devasted by the police brutality and says that people became indifferent over the years to the suffering of others.

Democracy

  • “People stopped believing they can do anything about the current situation, they live from one day to another.”.

The Pandemic

  • The pandemic has weakened social ties and made people live in their bubbles more, polarizing society.
  • Public healthcare system is chaos, she is impressed by how medical personal is trying to make through it - trust towards medical experts, also due to personal health issues
  • Lockdown affected many of her friends, though not her personally.
  • Education of her children is a horror - closing of the schools affected parent’s professional life, hinders family budget, makes children lag behind with the program, and isn’t beneficial for child’s development - due to an increased screen time.
  • Big Pharma raising prices of basic medical supplies, such as gloves and masks to earn more.
  • The government is not able to handle the pandemic.
  • Extra rescue funds are not enough to save the economy. - she doesn’t say though the lockdown is bad.

Media and information

  • She thinks people consume media in a very shallow manner and are prone to be quick to repeat, without making sure they really understand what they are talking about.

PiS voters

  • She thinks PiS voters are mostly afraid of losing the financial support the party offers them - she can see it in her neighborhood.
  • PiS voters may not agree with what the government is doing with women’s reproductive rights, but they pretend not to see because it is just more convenient for them, they are to lazy, and afraid to lose public social support/their privileges.
  • Older generation doesn’t give a shit about the future as they are going to be dead soon/

Populist PiS policies

  • She says that though the majority of the PiS voters seem to be retired, many people get around 1000 pln a month after working their entire adult lives.
  • "People take what they give, but don’t think about the costs" - public debt.

Way out of it

  • She votes for Hołownia and believes in changing lifestyle to more ecological to save our lives - environmentalist Catholicism.

Hołownia

  • She hopes he will be representing Poland in the EU as someone young, intelligent, and eloquent. She feels he represents her - feels represented.

The future

  • The future is possible only with a different government.
  • She believes PiS will make Poland leave the EU and this will be our end. Generations to come won’t be able to make up for this loss.
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Fieldwork 01.04 - 09.04

CONTEXTS

  • Unrest regarding Astra-Zeneca vaccine, controversies being spoken about, a general confusion on how to deal with the vaccine continues.
  • Issues with vaccine distribution: a case of system error, that suddenly invited for vaccination people aged 40-60, with a very little time to come to the visit, but some of those invited went and got the vaccine, despite the glitch being quickly noticed and the vaccinations called off. Interestingly, it happened on the 1st of April, that is on April Fools.
  • Issues with vaccine distribution: a case of Rzeszów, where a private medical center Medyk managed to successfully and quickly vaccinate over a half of the population of this regional city in the South of Poland, inhabited by close to 160 thousand people, becoming the most vaccinated city in Poland (64%). Some commentators claim it is a part of an electoral campaign by the city’s mayor, who belongs to the PiS party. Read more here in Polish.

INTERVIEW SUMMARIES

:man: Marcel 31.03, original transcript here
Interviewee’s profile

  • Marcel is a far-right-wing voter, supporting Konfederacja - a party that is a mixture of various political views, much of which is extreme, but all economically libertarian.
  • He lives in a small city in North-Eastern Poland, in the Podlasie region known for its conservatism, and far-right sympathizers. Some believe it’s due to the proximity of Warsaw, mixed religious inhabitation (Pravoslavic believers), and migrants from Belarus living in.
  • He is an opera singer but works at a family company that produces desserts, in particular, icecreams. It’s a small family-run and owned business.
  • He is very religious.

Main motives in the interview
The State

  • Bureaucracy is killing the economy, by making it difficult for the people to earn, and encouraging corruption.
  • He hates that in the current realm you cannot do anything within the state without a lawyer or other professional representation.
  • He firmly believes in the lowest possible levels of state interventionism - he thinks the rich should be the ones who help the poor, not the state.
  • People get to much money for not working - strong capitalist values and neoliberal hierarchies.

The Politics

  • He sees connections, networks, and deals within PiS as much as he saw it with PO & SLD/the opposition, when they were in power - in the elections he wanted against Trzaskowski, because he believes that PiS is less entangled in party favors.
  • He likes the government in Singapur - strong, stable, economic freedom.
  • He likes Konfederacja because it doesn’t take any stands, is not polarized like PO and PiS. Hołownia is doing something similar but isn’t very successful so far.

The Church

  • The Church doesn’t go into politics, but politicians use their Catholic identity to get elected.
  • Although he admits there are groups in the Church that seek political influence (Rydzyk and Radio Maryja, see HERE, and he is disgusted by it as a Catholic.

The Pandemic

  • Inadequate policies that harm the economy - Marcel isn’t an anti-vaxxer, though he is afraid of the tempo in which vaccines were developed.
  • He asked his friends who are medics, and he doesn’t accept any inference of the state into an individual’s life.
  • In Poland they should have done what Swedish did.
  • It made it very difficult for the family’s business, and for his musical career, but other than he knows in the entertainment industry has it way worst.
  • Media are overflowing the scale and the danger of the C19, but also people get hyped up across social media.

:woman: Zosia 07.04, original transcript here
Interviewee’s profile:

  • A leftist activist in a city movement.
  • With a conservative background, initially right-wing oriented, later changed to the radical left.
  • Brought up very religious practicing Catholic, now left the Church due to its oppressive nature.
  • Around 30 y.o., with two small children, married, works in HR in her association.

Main motives in the interview:

Polish politics

  • Political establishment is altogether bad - she hopes for reform in Polish politics with people from outside of the establishment, local activists, municipal politicians going national.
  • Initially she was for Hołownia, until he decided to work with old Civic Platform politicians when he set up his own party Polska 2050.
  • She knows that politics are about money and that politicians want power because of the money it gives them.
  • Even though she is disillusioned about the motivation of most politicians, she believes in a democratic system.
  • While local politics are all about who-knows-who, she believes this is the way to change the Polish political system, from the bottom up.

Women rights

  • PiS didn’t expect to get such a backlash on their anti-abortion policy.
  • Zosia was super surprised and devasted when the court ruling happened in autumn 2020.

The Pandemic

  • Moved to the suburbs to have more comfortable living conditions with two small children. Luckily her husband has a good job in ITs.

Populism

  • She doesn’t think PiS is populist - the only thing populist about it might be their anti-LGBTQ narratives, but other than that their policies of social welfare are needed and obvious.
  • In her view, the no-tax calls of Konfederacja are actually populist = unrealistic.

The Church

  • She and her husband grew up religious, used to be practicing Catholics, but left their faith after realizing how oppressive it is, how much their suffered because of it.
  • She doesn’t believe that God if he exists, expects people to live by the rules promoted by the Church, and is patriarchal.
  • Her parents belong to a very religious minority group in the Catholic Church, she has multiple siblings, and is herself very family-oriented - she wants family values without the oppression.
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sooo good! I was looking forward to these so much, great work :slight_smile:

Fieldwork 10.04 - 30.04
CONTEXTS

  • On the 10th of April, there was an entrepreneur strike taking place on the 11th anniversary of the so-called Smolensk Catastrophe (see here). Striking were protesting the lockdown measures being lifted the day before the anniversary of the day that Jarosław Kaczyński’s twin brother died. See here and here for video material in Polish.
  • 16.04 - Poland record a 24% higher mortality rate in the first quarter of the 2021, more on this here [ENG].
  • 19.04 - In the North-Eastern city Białystok, capitol of the Podlasie region thought to be the far-right capital of Poland, despite the fact Białystok is run by the PO opposition party, an anti-lockdown march took place. Here more not that in ENG. The Konfederacja party that has 11 MPs in the parliament supported the march. They are known to be anti-masks: example.
  • 19-20.04 - media report on Polish nation-wide census not taking into account other gender identities than men/women. There is no other. LGBT rights
    ***** 27-30.04 - Political conflict over the support the parliamentary Left gave the governmental plan of using the EU’s pandemic recovery funds - the liberal Platforma Obywatelska, supported by the leadership of the Strajk Kobiet/Women’s Strajk, expressed a radical critique of the move, while the Left fired back accusing the rest of the opposition of being unable to see that the national interest is at stake if there won’t be a parliament-approved plan to use the EU funds in time. More on this here.

INTERVIEW SUMMARIES
:man: Dariusz 26.04 - 06.05, original transcript here
Interviewee’s profile:

  • Dariusz votes for Konfederacja, has rather libertarian political views.
  • He lives in a mid-size city in the South of Poland.
  • Works in the food production sector.

Main motives in the interview

The State and the pandemic

  • The state should have done nothing to prevent the pandemic, and those who are afraid could just stay at home, “because many people are not afraid of this virus” - bravery as a value
  • He is against the lockdown, he worries how the economic hardship caused by it will influence general wellbeing, people make debts.
  • The government plays to please the public, and the Union doesn’t think by itself.

Politics

  • He respects the most controversial of Konfa’s politicians - Korwina-Mikke.
  • He seems to believe that sooner or later Konfederacja will win the elections

European Union

  • Dariusz sees EU as a hegemon that enforces wrong laws - he gives an example of food production standards, that in his opinion went down since Poland entered the Union, and he refers me to a Newsweek article that talks about it - when asked what came of the Union that is good, doesn’t answers.

Conspiracy theories

  • He seems to be believing in a conspiracy theory that there are artificially created organisms called morgellons, that are attached to medical masks with an aim to poison humanity - the concept of moregllons is a concept that originated in the West, most likely in the US, that talks about an unrecognized disease called morgellons, where an individual has peculiar string-like matter coming out of their skin. Somehow, this concept found its way to Poland, where it is associated with masks, and added a conspiracy theory that morgellons are a biological weapon. Some research into the matter shows the concept as fairly new, dating back to late March, perhaps coming from the German-speaking Internet it could find it’s way to Poland through German Polonia. It reflects a lack of trust in the pharmaceutical industry and reflects a grander conspirational narrative that the pandemic was planned.

Fieldwork 01.05 - 10.05
CONTEXTS

  • 01.05 - Polish Embassy in Czech requests the Czech government does not help Polish women in accessing abortion. Here about it in Polish.
  • 01.05 - 03.05 - A long weekend at the beginning of May was a no-registration vaccination governmental campaign that made people wait in lines for up to 7 hours in rainy and cold weather in hope of being jabbed.
  • Beginning of May is marked by two events crucial to the current state of the pandemic: the government opens registration for vaccinations to Poles in their 30s - every other day another age group is allowed to register to be vaccinated. As many want to get a vaccine asap a new phenomenon - vaccine tourism - becomes a thing, as the governmental website for vaccine registration allows for people to register in a clinic anywhere in the country. Another important news was that majority of pandemic restrictions will be lifted by the end of the month - this sparked a joyous reaction across the far-right.
  • The biggest opposition party - Civic Platform/Platforma Obywatelska that now forms Civic Coalition - amid that it needs a huge reform to cover its loss in popularity on behalf of the Left or Hołownia’s Polska 2050.
  • National statistic agency CBOS informed that according to their study Polish state TVP has for the first time in the history more negative reviews than positive ones in a nation-wide opinion pool. More on this here [ENG].
  • “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Poland’s constitutional court is not a “tribunal established by law” because it contains a judge illegitimately appointed as part of the current government’s judicial policies” here [ENG]… The ruling wasn’t important news in the country.
  • The government is working on a new law that makes public healthcare services accessible to any Polish citizen, while now they are accessible to those who work, are less than 26 years old, or register as unemployed but job-seeking, which creates difficulties for job agencies, as many register as unemployed only to be covered by the national insurance.
  • Poland recorded the European Union’s highest annual inflation in March, with of 4.4%.
  • 11.05 - one of the most popular Polish musician, that has fans across generations, Piasek, made a public coming out saying he’s gay.
  • The most crucial political event that took place in the beginning of May was the Left supporting PIS in their attempt to introduce the Polish Recovery Plan, based on the EU’s Recovery Fund. More on this here. The event is of crucial importance as it shows that the neo-liberal opposition, that was against the plan despite the general country’s need for EU’s financial support, is so blinded by their political strategy based on hatred towards PiS that it doesn’t know when to stop and get beyond divides. Many commentators see is as the end of the Civic Platform Party.
  • More on the turmoil around the National Recovery Fund and the European Recovery Fund here here in Polish, and here in English.

VARIOUS STUDIES AND OPINION POLLS

  • A study by Przemysław Sadura nad Sławomir Sierakowski from Krytyka Polityczna (left/radical left) talks about the most popular and controversial PiS policy - the 500+ for each child in the family. The study is to be found here.
  • A statistical opinion poll study by IPSOS for Oko.press news outlet shows that more men than women is significantly less afraid of the C19 virus. Gender gap is particularly visible when it comes to young men and women (18-29). The study here in Polish.

INTERVIEW SUMMARIES
:man: Marcin 05.05 - 21.05, original transcript here.

Interviewee’s profile:

  • Marcin is a student of physiotherapy from Warsaw, he is about 22 years old.
  • His mother is Polish, but his father is English, and he has experiences of living in the UK, but he spent most of his life in Poland.
  • His hobby is martial arts, and politics.
  • We met on the IG profile of Strajk Kobiet, where he was critiquing their stand of the Left supporting PiS in their aim to provide a plan to use EU’s Funding.

Fieldwork 11.05 - 21.05
CONTEXTS

  • Polski Nowy Ład/ Polish New Order, also known as New Deal/Polish Deal - while it would be great for the Polish New Order to be a spin of the famous British band, it is certainly not the case - the Nowy Ład is an extremely important political plan, announced by the prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and for some reason Jarosław Kaczyński, the PiS party leader whose official role is just of a vice-prime minister, yet he was the one who on Saturday 15.05.21 spoke alongside Morawiecki. The announcement of the plan was postponed to May from March, and while it is to an extent a post-pandemic recovery plan, it More on the Nowy Ład here in English.
  • :star2: Nowy Ład is about social reforms supporting family values - :houses: affordable housing with governmental support for families with children, and new construction law that makes it easier to build small family houses; moneybag: tax privileges for those earning now more than 30 000 PLN annually; :newspaper: one new model of job agreements that makes contracts cover health insurance, as well as social security and pension contributions; :child: reforms in the education system to strengthen patriotic feelings and moral values amongst the youth, including, " to fight “totalitarian dictatorship of left-liberal views” in Poland, represented by the EU as well.
  • The governmental narrative, in general, is to give Poles life on a European level, and make the lives of those earning less easy, not privileging the rich.
  • The critique from the liberal Civic Platform and libertarian Konfederacja: 1. Burdening the entrepreneurial middle class. 2. Becoming socialist nationalist, not only conservative nationalist, and marrying with the Left.
  • The critique from the Left: 1. Housing market will see a crash due to changes in construction regulations. 2. The housing bubble and real-estate prices are expected to sky-rocket. 3. It’s a death sentence for the future of conscience urban planning in Poland, and contributes to the so-called “patodeweloperka”, pathological real-estate building.
  • Polish parliament rejects amendments to the abortion law proposed by the Left - you can read more on this here in English, and here in Polish.
  • Poland was called the most homophobic country in Europe second year in the row.

INTERVIEW SUMMARIES

:woman: Beata 14.05, original conversation here.

Interviewee’s profile:

  • Beata works as a manager in an IT firm but studies humanities.
  • She lives with her husband, who is libertarian-conservative, and their son.
  • She votes left and is liberal, pro-choice.
  • She grew up in Warsaw, has friends with various political views, trying to find a common ground with all of them.
  • We met on the IG profile of Strajk Kobiet, where she was critiquing their stand against the Left supporting PiS in their aim to provide a plan to use EU’s Funding.

Main motives in the interview
Church

  • Because of the hypocrisy inside the Church, she left the Church.
    Strajk Kobiet
  • The organization got itself too much into general politics, instead of focusing on the main issue, which is the right to abortion.
  • They missed their chance to engage broader segments of the society, contrary to Ireland, where she was during their abortion right protests and campaigns, Strajk Kobiet, that mostly administrated the October wave of protests, is very exclusive in the language their use, which is too vulgar and too alien to the majority of the Polish society, the should be targeting.
  • Police were overly criticized for doing their job, being given orders from above, to escalate conflict during the protests.
  • The greatest thing about those protests were that also small towns and village joined in.

Women rights
Women reproductive rights

  • She seems a narrative that those who are pro-choice are murdering children as populism.
  • Abolishing the abortion compromise was populist, because it didn’t change anything regarding the actual number of abortions done in Poland, Officially it is around a thousand a year based on genetic defects in the fetus, but unofficial/ngo estimates talk about tens of thousand.
  • She is for the abortion on request.
  • A woman out of her own will is not legally allowed to undergo a sterilization procedure.

Law and Justice party

  • PiS might have used the pandemic as an opportunity to change the law or was pressured to do so by the most conservative, Catholic politicians within the party.

The EU

Polarization in the media

  • She notices how polarizing social media are, especially among the older generation.

:woman: Zofia 21.05, original conversation here.

Interviewee’s profile:

  • educated women in her mid-thirties, working in NGOs in a cultural sector, organizing exhibitions and cultural events,
  • her husband is a pianist, and suffered financially during the pandemic,
  • they are both conservative Catholics, traditionalists, but are in-vitro as are struggling with infertility. She has genetic issues in that regard and tries to use what technology has to offer her. In-vitro is broadly criticized by the Church and anti-abortion activists as during the in-vitro process some inseminated eggs will die, and they see life as starting with the conception,
  • they are both from Warsaw.

Main motives in the interview
Healthcare

  • She sees the healthcare system as politicized - much of what the system has to offer depends on the political representation of various patient groups and governmental whims and market powers.
  • Private healthcare has its own issues - she was struggling a lot to find a good doctor, that she trusts to help her get pregnant, but there is no control of a patient over the quality of services, they are in a lost position, unlike f.e. cancer patients who feel more empowered according to some research.
  • She doesn’t have much faith into the Polish government, though she would mind if they would refund at least some of the tests she is doing - the public healthcare system is now to slow for her to be able to do fertility tests, ques are too long and such tests must be done very quickly.

Church

  • She thinks the church shouldn’t get into politics, but it very much does - she thinks healthcare should be left to experts, scientists, not allowing Church to get involved.

PiS

  • She sees it a as huge political project, a powerful party that does its own social research, and bases its politics and policies on it.

Public social policies

  • She identifies her political views as a mixture of socialist with conservative ones. She would vote left but also for Konfederacja, depending what policies she perceives as particularly important either to her or to the society. She will not vote if she doesn’t have someone to vote for - she came to this decision after meeting her husband, who does the same.
  • She is very politically conscious.

Hołownia

  • She sees him as being an opportunistic politician.

POSSIBLE POLITICAL TURN?
The support PiS received from the United Left regarding the Recovery Fund based on the EU’s fund, and the PiS’s new political plan the Polish Order, that is to make their political success, that was built on the 500+ program, to last longer, are seen by many political commentators as the rise of the new social-democratic PiS, that is getting further away from their alliance with neo-liberal/libertarian right-wing politics. Except their conservative, political views, and anti-EU sentiments, that is. Is it possible to imagine a political alliance between the United Left and PiS? Is it a way for Kaczyński to get further away from those conservative politicians that make up the United Right, that are related to Ordo Juris foundation.

A great analysis of the turmoil around the National Recovery Fund HERE in Polish, and HERE in English.

A great commentary by my friend Maria Wilczek HERE in English, and also HERE, by Stanley Bill.

Fieldwork 22.05 - 14.06
CONTEXTS

  • Kaczyński expresses a controversial opinion in an interview given to the Wprost weekly magazine on the 24th of May, that **it’s not true that abortion is illegal in Poland, and that he knows "that there are notices in the press, which every moderately cleaver person understands and they can organize for themselves such an abortion abroad. While the interview, along another one that he recently gave to the weekly W Sieci, talks about other issues, such as the New Polish Deal, his remarks on abortion were particularly critised by opposition leaders, as being church-pleasing, and cynical.
  • In a unprecedented move, State Auditor Marian Banaś has notified prosecutors of potential crimes committed by four members of the government, including the prime minister and Kaczyński in connection with last year’s abandoned presidential elections. All four have responded by denying wrongdoing.
  • Belarus divers a Ryanair plane that was flying from to Vilenius, Lithuania. Experts say Poland has a right to investigate the case as an act of air piracy, or . Since post-election protests in August 2020, Poland provided refuge to hundreds fleeing Belarus.
  • Kukiz15 making a deal with Law and Justice Party - this is important, because this helps PiS to get stronger against Hołownia’s PL2050.
  • The EURO 2021 has started - the event was supposed to be taking place last year, but postponed for a year.
  • Donald Tusk, the former Civic Platform leader, and the former president of the European Council (2014-2019), hinted he might be going back into Polish policits. After leaving it to hold the office of the EC president, the PO platform’s popularity dropped significantly, as well as party’s political influence. The gossip spared controversy among the left-wing politicians, who blame the Civic Platform’s neoliberal policies for the current state of social policies in Poland, and allowing PiS to gain popularity on addressing those exact social issues that PO didn’t take care of. But, according to a survey made for the Super Express tabloid, 55 proc. of those asked don’t want him to get back.

Fieldwork 15.06 - 30.06
CONTEXTS

  • Church appraising PiS repeatadly (see here).
  • Poland’s new strategy to boost childbriths, which is met with an applause from the Left. Poland needs a rate of 2,1 per woman to have population replaced within 20 years; now the rate is 1,44, due to highest mortality rates since WWII according to Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs and Eurostat.
  • A new right-wing breakway party formed out of ruling coalition called Partia Republikańska, got “blessing” of Jarosław Kaczyński. The party broke away from the Agreement Party (Porozumienie), lead by Jarosław Gowin, over a dispute of the party’s leadership.
  • On the 25th of June the ruling Law and Justice Party lost the majority in the parliament after one MP quitting, but still is able to master the majority of votes, though it makes their ruling way more difficult. More [here].
  • Poland - Isreal Embassy/Jewish Community in Poland - US Embassy tensions over the restitution law dispute - The US and Israel are pushing for Poland to allow restitutions of Jewish property that was nationalized in the 1950s. The Polish government refuses to do so, when it comes to real estate property when there is no heir that can claim it, on the basis of the fact that those properties were often in ruins, when nationalized, as Poland was itself heavily damaged. The Left supports this decision, the far-right as well, the Civic Platform party, as per usual recently, goes for what they perceive as neoliberal populism, that might target the middle-aged voters, who party’s majority of voters. More on this here.
  • Pride Parades taking place across Poland:
    ** a good commentary on the topic was published by DW on YT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtYBy6fqeYQ
    ** this year, after two years break, there was so crushes with anti-LGBTQ rights protesters, although their presence during the protests is a constant - they walk alongside of the march throwing swearwords at the Pride Parade participants.
    ** Altough the parades were not themselves disrupted, there were numerous accounts of far-right hooligans attacking parade’s participants who were wearing rainbow flags or pro-abortion slogans and were wondering the city center after the parade
    ** Minister of Education and Science, Czarnek called the parade an insult to morality: https://notesfrompoland.com/2021/06/23/lgbt-deviants-dont-have-same-rights-as-normal-people-says-polish-education-minister/
  • A right-wing opinion journal published results of parlimantery elections, if they were to happen now. Interesting outcomes:
    ** PiS/ZP: 186/182
    ** Koalicja Obywatelska (Civic Platform Party): 89/131
    ** New Left: 31/27
    ** PSL/KP: 0/0
    **KONF: 21/6
    ** PL2050: 132/113 (Hołownia)
    What does this mean? PiS or United Right would not have the necessary majority to rule on it’s own. Even if they would make a coalition with Konfederacja, they wouldn’t have the parliamentary majority [207/188]. The liberal opposition, if able to form a coalition, could create a united front and take the government [252/271]. Just a coalition between Koalicja Obywatelska and Hołownia’s party would be enough to form a government. There are to scenario’s based on the results of the survey the stimulation is based on - in the first scenario, PiS/United Right would be able to have enough votes to support presidential veto, in the second case scenario it would need help from Konfederacja. In the second scenario Konfederacja in their parlimentary representation wouldn’t be able to form their own parlimentary club.
    Interestingly, if Donald Tusk would come back to Polish politics it would make a big difference.

The results are very interesting because they seem like a bucket of cold water on the hot head of the Right, showing that their political position isn’t at all a given.



In October 2020, before the so-called abortion ban PIS had 43% of total votes [here]. The poll I am describing here is no longer findable online outside of social media of the opposition… Social Changes, the opinion poll research company is know for cooperating closely with the government.

  • Another opinion poll, this time for Onet.pl, the most popular digital news outlet in the country. The poll, made by IBRIS, shows a rapid decline of support for Hołownia and hist PL2050. Commentators wonder if it’s because Donal Tusk hinted he might be going back to Polish politics.
    ** Commentary of the State TV [Polish] HERE.
    ** Comments in English HERE.
  • State TVP found to be the least trusted source of daily news by the Oxord’s Reuters Institute [HERE].
  • Law and Justice Party is building on a recent UN ranking, that shows Poland to be 5th in the global ranking of new foreign investments - the government announced they expect to be able to be a net contributor in the EU in a decade [HERE]. economics

Fieldwork 01.07 - 30.07

Research shift: focusing on health related issues.

CONTEXTS:

  • :hospital: Healthcare issues:
    ** Poland introduces a free test package for adults over 40 to boost public health that have deteriorated due to limited medical services due to the pandemic.
  • :office: General pandemic-related issues:
    ** Polish Supreme Court says the ban on gatherings during the lockdown, in the context of abortion ban protests.
    ** Centre for Public Opinion Research says that in July majority of Poles seems to be supportive of governmental Covid policies.
  • :mask: Vaccination:
    ** Church gets involved in convincing Catholic Poles to get vaccinated (HERE).
    ** Government reports that most death cases since January 2021 are of the unvaccinated.
    ** Poland is planning to sell extra supplies of C19 vaccine to other countries in need, such as Ukraine and Georgia.
    ** Polish Ministry of Health says that deaths due to C19 among vaccinated were less than 2% this summer.
    ** During a conference on the 30th of July, Prime Minister Morawiecki announced who is going to get obligatory vaccinations, warning that low levels of vaccinations will result in the slow down of the economy. He addressed anti-vaxxers, warning them of the consequences of vaccination refusal, putting significant pressure onto them, especially opposition from far-right politicians who are linked with anti-vaccination movements in Poland to some extent. For the most vaccinated municipalities, there are financial awards planned to boost local civic competitiveness.
  • :firecracker: Pandemic-related protests:
    ** :people_holding_hands: Głógów, 18.07 - protest run by local football fans and nationalists:
    Notes of Poland write: “In Głogów, a town of 70,000 in western Poland, followers of the local football team on Sunday held the latest in a series of protests against restrictions and vaccines. “Stop the propaganda of a fourth wave”, “Stop sanitary segregation”, and “Stop vaccination coercion” were among the slogans.”
    “Over 100 people attended the march, […] among them were families with children. Many carried white-and-red Polish flags or wore other patriotic symbols. Some also lit flares. Participants also engaged in a confrontation with the police, shouting obscenities at officers and behaving aggressively towards them, forcing the police to retreat. “One day you will all be held to account,” warned the nationalist Twitter account that shared a video of the incident. Three men were detained during the event, reports Wirtualna Polska: two for insulting police officers and another for damaging a police car.”
    ** :people_holding_hands: Warszawa, Lublin - Since spring 2021 there were a number of anti-lockdown rallies taking place in Poland as a part of a World Wide Rally rally initiative, anti-pandemic restrictions, and anti-vaccination, run by a Germany/UK-based group. An investigation by Loggically.Ai revealed their **suspiciously centralized nature **with investigative social media network analysis. Here is a thorough narrative from a supporting niche medium:
    https://nczas.com/2021/07/24/antycovidowe-antyszczepionkowe-protesty/
    ** :people_holding_hands: Grodzisk Mazowiecki - On Sunday 25.07 a few anti-vaxxers attacked a vaccination point in a small town near Warsaw. You can read about it here, here, and here, in Polish.
    Most important point from media narratives of the incident: the state is against any forms of aggressive protest, the Prime Minister Morawiecki is asking for the cooling of emotions.

Pytany, w jaki sposób rząd planuje walczyć z agresją ruchów antyszczepionkowych, odpowiedział, że zamierza skorzystać z narzędzi prawnych.
Zdaniem medyków to jednak nie wystarczy: – Boję się, że za chwilę grupa antyszczepów wtargnie na mój oddział, pobije mnie, zdemoluje sprzęt i narazi pacjentów – mówi anestezjolog z dużego szpitala w Warszawie, który od początku pandemii pracuje na oddziale covidowym. Jego zdaniem taką napaść mogłyby powstrzymać tylko zdecydowane ruchy rządu, jak władz Francji, która wprowadziła zakazy wstępu dla niezaszczepionych do restauracji czy kin.
Przed jednym z punktów szczepień w Grodzisku Mazowiecki doszło do szarpaniny. Grupa osób z antyszczepionkowej organizacji “Polskie Żółte Kamizelki” próbowała wtargnąć na teren placówki, ale została zatrzymana przez ochroniarzy. Doszło do rękoczynów. Tomasz Dzieciątkowski, mikrobiolog i wirusolog, powiedział w rozmowie z Onetem, że sytuacja ta zakrawa na bioterroryzm.

@Maniamana do you want this topic to be a contributor to the codes co-occurrences graph? I cannot tell if any coding would be about you coding your own reflection (and then we would not want to include it in the graph, as per @Jan’s decision on the coding thread (see); or, viceversa, if the topic contains interview transcriptions that need to be included.

Hi Alberto, apologies, I missed your question!! I won’t be coding those notes - and those are just notes.