Paczynska Relates Political and Economic Reform for ICAR Discussion

Posted: November 14, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

Political economist Agnieszka Paczynska will discuss how Poland’s implementation of economic reforms affects the process of democratic consolidation in this week’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) brown bag lecture. Paczynska, assistant professor of conflict analysis and resolution at ICAR, received her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Virginia. She studied the juxtaposition of economics and politics while on an International Research and Exchange Board Fellowship for Research in Poland.

Paczynska’s presentation, “Political Participation during Transition to Democracy and Market Economy: the Polish Case,” examines post-1989 Poland. Paczynska investigates the relationship between socio-demographic characteristics and public attitudes towards democracy, political participation, and the perception of efficacy of such participation.

“While formal institutions of a democratic system have been established in Poland, the developments of the last decade raise a number of troubling issues concerning democratic consolidation,” she observes. In particular, the growing social inequalities and increase in poverty levels has meant that, rather than seeing the growth of the middle class, there has been a growing bifurcation of the society into a small, well-educated, urban sector and the mostly poor residents of small towns and rural areas who lack marketable skills.

“The first of these two groups tends to be supportive of economic changes, views democracy positively, and is active in political and civic life. The second is dissatisfied with economic changes, expresses a more tenuous support for democracy, and is less likely to participate,” she says.

The discussion is part of ICAR’s series of informal lectures on the research and practice of conflict resolution and is held in the ICAR Main Conference Room, A401, located at 4260 Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax. For more information, call (703) 993-1300.

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