From Solidarność to Shock Therapy: Economic Thought and the System Transformation in Poland, 1975-1995


Poland took an early leading role within the Soviet area of influence when it came to its systemic change and radical macroeconomic shock therapy. In view of this, the focus of this DFG-funded project lies in the “transformation before the transformation”, concentrating on the creeping discursive and social changes that had already begun in Poland during the decade leading up to 1989 and placing this in connection with the profound social and economic upheavals of the turbulent years of transformation through 1995. This first involves the evolution of reform discourses in economic policy within the Communist Party, economist panels, and the democratic opposition movement. The project then connects this discourse-analysis approach with the investigation of the market economy that emerged since the 1980s and which left its mark on the image of the Polish transformation process as “bottom-up proto-capitalism”. The influence of conceptual and practical transfers from the West, which came about from the introduction of Western advisors, also needs to be taken into account within this framework. The project thus seeks to embed the historical turning point of 1989 within long transnational lines of development, while casting light on the discursive preconditions of the systemic change as historical factors in their own right.

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