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«February 2020»

Fellow Seminar

07 June 2018

Dr. Wiktor Marzec will present his research proposal on the topic: "Historical Sociology of Revolution and Welfare and Historical Semantics of Parliamentary Debates. Worker and Work as Keywords in Times of International Class War (First Polish Diet 1919-1922)" on 7 June 2018 (Thursday) at 16:30h.


How can history of concepts inform research in historical sociology? When performed as sequential analysis of keywords in context of dense, "eventful" historical moments, it may contribute not only to understanding of long term transformations of society (as have been argued before) but also its rapid reconfigurations. I will propose a research design combining historical sociology in its classic form, interested in revolutions and social unrest, with history of concepts understood as context-sensitive, sequential analysis of keywords changing in time. In detail, I will investigate the parliamentary debate of the first diet of the modern Polish state (1919-1922) as responding to a rapidly changing geopolitical and social situation.

While Polish lands experienced "politics in a new key" with raising modern ideologies and mass political constituencies earlier, during the 1905 revolution, it is after 1918 when the modern political sphere actually came to fruition, also in parliament. Relatively progressive political system with universal suffrage and significant role of parliament faced neo-feudal social structure. This is the time of carving out the place and modes of representation for various social groups in the political sphere, or the imaginary institution of society. Also the very direct shape of the new state was at stake. Whereas earlier anti-revolutionary reaction pushed back the masses and most of the popular classes supported the nation state, it was still initially a socialist-leaning one. Once forged and stabilized, it moved to the right, however. With borders at war and Bolsheviks marching westwards during the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1919-1921, the danger of revolution behind the front was seriously considered and indeed social unrest did intensify.

Investigating concepts referring to workers and work I ask about forging foundations of the new polity in respect to class. The "conundrum of class" in the Polish parliament offers a focused insight on one of the crucial questions of political macrohistory of Europe. Was the communist state and its expansionist policies a factor triggering reaction and militarization of the European right (epitomized in the narrative about fascism as a reactive phenomenon)? Or was it a threat forcing the propertied classes to agree for concessions and building a pan-European welfare project?

Wiktor Marzec holds a PhD in sociology and social anthropology from Central European University in Budapest, MA in sociology and MA in philosophy from University of Lodz. His research interests concern historical sociology, labor history and conceptual history. He has been a junior fellow at the University of Michigan, Humboldt University in Berlin, and Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His recent publications include articles in Thesis Eleven, Journal of Historical Sociology and Eastern European Politics and Societies. He is the author of Rebellion and Reaction. The 1905 Revolution and Plebeian Political Experience in Russian Poland (in Polish, with Lodz University Press and Universitas). Member of History of Concepts Group, European Labor History Network and Polish Studies Association. Currently a fellow in Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia. From September 2018, post-doc in the Centre for Historical Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Sankt Petersburg.



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