9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Risk and Labour Market Building II, Auditório B2.04

Living in the state of permanent crisis. Voices of young generation from the former collective state farms in Poland

The idea of collective state farms was an ideological, economical and social project of a soviet origin that at its peak reached in Poland the level of 6000 state farms, 500.000 employees (2 million with family members) and 25% of cultivated land. Comparing to other countries of the soviet bloc, like Czechoslovakia, Romania or Hungary where state farms accumulated approximately 60% of cultivated land, Polish version of collectivization could not have been called a successful one. Therefore sociologists strategically "discovered" those places only after the collapse of communist regime, and even after the decision regarding their liquidation was made by the parliament in 1991.

However the moment the collective state farms stopped existing as legal entities, they also stopped being a problem of the state preoccupied with various aspects of system transformation. They remained exclusively a problem of people living in the "parallel universe" of spatially isolated social and cultural deserts of housing estates of the former employees of the collective state farms.

Young people and young adults, people born just before or just after the liquidation of economically unjustified collective state farms, have to carry a heavy burden of their roots. Very often not being able to count on anyone's help they have to not only take care of themselves, even from early years, but also to support their parents, the forgotten victims of a social experiment. Although young people openly declare that they do not want to live the lives their parents have lived for the past twenty years, the choice of available positive scenarios is rather limited, and the threats they have to face - like danger of inheritance of poverty and marginalization, poverty of children, lack of perspectives in terms of education and job market, feminization of poverty or alcohol abuse - are rather serious.

The aim of the presentation is to focus on selected, fenomenologically representative to the group stories shared by the young inhabitants of the former collective state farms and reflect upon the possibilities of improving their situation as a group.