Topic: Protest Activity and Processes of Social and Political Mobilization Among Polish Farmers: the Past and the Present
As a result of modernization processes, the peasant class became a subject capable of engaging in collective activities whose goal was not only to change their position or defend their own interests, but also to contribute to modernization processes.
This also applies to the processes of emancipation of Polish peasants. In the period of the last one hundred years, protest activity of this social class (i.e., peasants, and later farmers) can be divided into three phases with distinct social, economic and political conditions, in which the discussed social category was functioning and engaging in collective protest activities. These were: the inter-war period (1918-1939); the period of real socialism (1945-1989) and the 3rd Polish Republic (since 1989). In each of the periods, the peasantry class was undergoing emancipation, professionalization and transformation into farmers, and later agricultural business people. Additionally, the determinants and mobilization capabilities of those classes were changing.
Protest activity of Polish peasants and farmers in the above-mentioned periods had several dominant characteristics. First, it was cyclical, which seems quite obvious, since it is impossible to be permanently ready to engage in protest activity. Second, the cyclicity was mostly caused by broadly understood economic reasons. Third, apart from economic factors, national and political issues played an important role in mobilizing protest activity in this social category. Of course, the importance of these factors differed between the inter-war period, the Polish People’s Republic, and the last three decades. Fourth, the activities were initially organized by political organizations (in the inter-war period), which were later replaced by trade unions (in the Polish People’s Republic and the three decades after 1989). Fifth, the scope of forms of protest has evolved, from mass meetings, marches and strikes in the inter-war period, through strikes and petitions in the times of real socialism, up to road blocks, occupations of public institutions and destroying produce after 1989. Sixth, the demands raised during peasants’ and farmers’ protest actions have always been mainly economic; political demands were uncommon (which confirms the previous statement about the economic foundation of peasant and farmer protests). Finally, seventh, we can see a clear upward trend as regards the effectiveness of protest activities in the three above-mentioned periods.
In this article, I would like to focus mostly on mobilization capabilities of farmers and agricultural business people in contemporary Poland. Which model of interests articulation properly describes their protest activity?