POLPAN Seminar: Structural Conditions that Enable Right-Wing Civic Associations to Emerge in Poland

The first POLPAN Seminar after the summer break will be held on Monday, September 17th. During the Seminar Dr Marcin Ślarzyński will present his paper entitled “Structural Conditions that Enable Right-Wing Civic Associations to Emerge in Poland.”

The meeting will take place in Staszic Palace, in room 154, from 14:30 to 16:00. Everyone interested in the seminar topic is welcome to participate.


Under what conditions do right-wing civil society organizations emerge? While most studies of the emergence of civil society tend to focus on left-leaning, liberal NGOs and SMOs, few examine the organizations that populate right-wing civil society. As an empirical demonstration, this article examines the emergence of Gazeta Polska clubs, a set of, as of the end of 2017, around 400 non-registered associations who advocate for anti-communism, Euroscepticism, and nationalism. The clubs organize different kinds of events — meetings, demonstrations, and lectures — and have been involved in Polish politics supporting the Law and Justice (PiS) which was the leading party in 2005–2007 and from 2015 to the present. Using local government data (gmina), I employ event history analysis to examine the economic, political, and historical determinants associated with the probability of emergence of these clubs in Poland in 2005–2015. I found that local conditions of emergence of right-wing civil society are similar to the determinants of emergence of other types of voluntary organizations and protest: increase in the proportion of citizens with higher education, lower unemployment, and urban character of a municipality increase the probability of emergence of right-wing associations. All these conditions, which is supported by the analysis of club leaders’ profiles, point to the local intelligentsia as the main group responsible for founding the clubs. In addition, local conditions of emergence of right-wing civil society organizations differ from the local conditions of right-wing partisan support. The article also provides empirical support for the hypothesis that two types of historically rooted civil society organizations constitute important determinants of the emergence of right-wing civil society organizations: labor unions (Solidarity legacy) provide institutional basis and cadre for the new right-wing associations whereas volunteer fire departments (traditional organizations, some of them founded during partitions in 19th century) hamper their process of emergence by appropriating cultural resources indispensable for their activity.

Keywords: Poland, civil society, right-wing, social movement, organizational ecology.