Europeanness among Polish civil society activists


  • Ina Alber-Armenat University of Göttingen



biographical research, discourse analysis, civic engagement, European mental space


The European discourse is not only a powerful idea at the structural societal level, it is also pragmatically used, re‑produced and transformed through the everyday actions of people with specific biographies.1 In this paper, I would like to address the question how Europeanness – i.e. relating to Europe and/or being European – develops during one’s life course. I propose a qualitative sociological approach and the methodology of discourse research2 and biographical analysis. 3 The empirical cases to be discussed are social actors who perceive themselves to be civil society activists. As such, they are actively involved in the public arena, thereby contributing to the development of public and media discourses. They talk about Europe from the perspective of specific biographies that have to be reconstructed if we are to understand the genesis of their Europeanness. In analysing the biographies of civil society activists in post‑socialist Poland, two ideal types could be reconstructed that apply to both the activity and the Europeanness: a) a pragmatic, skill and qualification‑related type and b) an idealistic, empowerment and emancipation‑related type. In order to discuss these two types, I shall first outline the methodology applied and the empirical material. I will then focus on the narratives, using the framework of biographical and discourse analysis in the sociology of knowledge tradition. My conclusion summarises the biographical development of Europeanness of Polish civil society activists.


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Author Biography

Ina Alber-Armenat, University of Göttingen

Received her PhD from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Georg-August-Universiy of Goettingen. Currently she works as post-doc-researcher and study programme coordinator at the Institute for Sociolog y in Goettingen. Between 2012 and 2015 she was Executive Director of the Leibniz Graduate School ‘History, Knowledge, Media in East Central Europe’ and Scientific Assistant at the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association in Marburg. Her research interests cover the intersections of political science, sociolog y, media and communication and methodolog y, and particularly Central Eastern Europe and post-socialist transformation, interpretative social research, biographi-cal research, discourse and text analysis, methodolog y of qualitative research, sociolg y of knowledge; transnational migration and care work, gender studies, German-Polish relations and cultures of memory, research on democracy, civil society and human rights.


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How to Cite

Alber-Armenat, Ina. 2017. “Europeanness Among Polish Civil Society Activists”. Politeja 14 (4(49):71-85.