“The real contribution of the book is to show that the adaptation to new patterns of economy and society in daily life are syncretic, that they meld together elements of tradition and novelty in unpredictable and fascinating ways.”
- Michael Bernhard, Raymond and Miriam Ehrlich Eminent Scholar Chair in Political Science, University of Florida, USA
“Through three carefully executed case studies focused on Poland, demonstrating impressive empirical depth and theoretical sophistication, Chmielewska-Szlajfer helps to fill a lacuna in the field.”
- Jan Kubik, Professor of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, UK
“Chmielewska-Szlajfer’s story of an ‘ordinary people’s public sphere’ emerging throughout Poland is a superb and unusually optimistic intervention in contemporary discussions.”
- David Ost, Professor of Political Science,Hobart and William Smith Colleges, USA
Harnessing a cultural sociological approach to explore transformations in key social spheres in post-1989 Poland, Chmielewska-Szlajfer illuminates shifts in religiosity, sympathy towards others, and civic activity in post-Communist Poland in the light of the Western influence over elements on Polish life.
Reshaping Poland’s Community after Communism focuses on three major cases, previously largely ignored in Polish scholarship: (1) a hugely popular, new faux-baroque Catholic shrine, which illustrates new strategies adopted by the Polish Catholic Church to attract believers; (2) Woodstock Station, a widely-known free charity music festival, demonstrating new practices of sympathy towards strangers; and (3) the emergence of national internet pro-voting campaigns and small-town watchdog websites, which uncover changes in practical uses of civic engagement.
In exploring grass-roots, everyday negotiations of religiosity, charity, and civic engagement in contemporary Poland, Chmielewska-Szlajfer demonstrates how a country’s cultural changes can suggest wider, dramatic democratic transformation.