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Book Chapter

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Social Policy, Social Justice and Citizenship in Eastern Europe

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Public opinion research has changed dramatically in the last ten years in Poland, in terms of its methodology, scope, and role in political change. During the "first" Solidarity era (1980–81), the genie of public opinion was let out of the bottle, and even martial law could not entirely put it back. Public opinion polling in the 1980s became more sophisticated and more common, and began to tackle increasingly sensitive political issues. Public opinion came to play a role in the political process, and to give the Polish population a sense of its own purpose and values. It also revealed the depth of antipathy to the communist regime and leadership and, in doing so, further eroded the already fragile legitimacy of the regime. When, in the late 1980s, the regime realized it could not succeed at winning back the allegiance, or at least acquiescence, of the Polish population, it agreed to negotiate with the opposition. The result was the emergence of the first noncommunist regime in Eastern Europe.


This chapter was archived with permission from Ashgate/Gower, all rights reserved. Document also available from Mason, David S. "Public opinion in Poland's transition to market economy," in Bob Deacon, ed., Social Policy, Social Justice and Citizenship in Eastern Europe (Avebury: UK, 1992), pp. 191-210.