Stratification, Class, Attainment, and Mobility

Class Structure and Social Stratification in Poland from the 1970s to the 2010s from Dynamics of Class and Stratification in Poland 

We briefly define the core concepts of social structure, social classes and social stratification, and discusses their features during State Socialism. During the Communist Party era, mass nationalization eliminated the salience of the class criterion of ownership of means of production and created political segmentation of the labor market. Next, it presents theory and empirical demonstration of changes to the class structure and its relationship to the stratification structure in Poland from the time of State Socialism to the European Union era. This chapter also serves as a detailed presentation of the Warsaw School of studying class and stratification, and its investigations. According to the Warsaw School, the degree of the independence of class and stratification is an open empirical question. This chapter provides survey data analyses to empirically demonstrate the main thesis that social class and stratification are related, yet distinct elements of the social structure. Results consistently show that social classes cannot be reduced to a simple hierarchical pattern and that the relations between social classes change over time.

Changes in Class Structure in Poland, 1988-2003: Crystallization of the Winners–Losers’ DividePolish Sociological Review

This paper examines changes in the social structure in Poland, and the role of social classes on public opinion formation. The main hypothesis is that the divide between winners and losers crystallizes over time, as the social distance that separates these categories solidifies, and their reaction to economic and political transformation becomes increasingly divergent. Using data from the Polish panel survey POLPAN, conducted in 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003, we find that the main changes in the class structure in Poland occurred between 1988 and 1993. Following 1993, the patterns of the post-communist social structure start to settle, becoming, by 2003, typical of a capitalist society. Results further show substantial and significant differences between the privileged and the disadvantaged in evaluation of socialism, as well as in their subjective assessment of changes in life, and active and passive support for the institution of elections.

Class, Gender and the Economic Crisis from an Intersectional Perspective from Dynamics of Class and Stratification in Poland

We empirically examine the alignment of social class with stratification in Poland before, during and after the onset of the 2008 global economic crisis. Across Europe, the impact of the crisis was felt objectively, in terms of falling incomes and rising unemployment; and subjectively, in terms of everyday anxiety over how to cope with economic insecurity. We make two main points.  First, to address the impact of economic events on social phenomena, it is best to treat class and stratification as analytically distinct phenomena, as proposed by the Warsaw School of class and stratification. Second, introducing the intersection of class and gender reveals useful information and interesting socio-economic patterns. While there are various conceptual strands of intersectionality, most quantitative analyses of it share three principles: (a) Individuals belong to multiple demographic groupings, including those according to gender and social class; (b) some groupings provide advantages and some disadvantages, with each category rooted in the social stratification structure; and (c) the intersections of categories influence access to, and acquisition of, scarce and valued resources. We find that Polish Prime Minister Tusk’s declaration of Poland as a “Green Island” was not entirely off the mark: As of 2010, there was no major realignment of class and stratification in Poland as a result of the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s’ Great Depression. By combining the Warsaw School with intersectionality, however, we notice a disturbing pattern that upsets the Green Island thesis.  At the onset of the crisis and after, women at the bottom end of the class structure – manual workers and farmers, specifically – began to have significantly and objectively worse economic conditions than men, and were more likely to have felt economically insecure.

Changing Memories of the Past: Structural and Contextual Determinants of Retrospective Assessment of Socialism Studia Sociologia

This project builds on my earlier work on “Structural Determinants and Retrospective Assessment of Socialism” (2007 in Slomczynski and Marquart‐ Pyat, eds.), where I analyzed for the period 1989‐2003, whether Poles’ views of the past and changes thereof depend on their social position before and after 1989. Here, I extend the scope of this research along three lines: first, I bring in new data from the 2008 Polish Panel Survey, POLPAN; second, I include the relation between contextual determinants – individuals’ political biographies – and subjective assessment of socialism; third, I complement the quantitative part of my analyses with in‐depth interview data. I conceptualize evaluations of the past in terms of the degree of positive/negative assessment of the socialist system. This specific reference point is essential for my study since “socialist system” represents an abandoned regime. Thus, change in opinion about socialism is not caused by the change in its object; it might be caused only by the change in the subject – a person and their conditions. Findings support the rational action perspective that assessment of socialism is based on individual interests that are well grounded in peoples’ position in the social structure. In Poland, ‘winners’ of the transition such as mangers and experts who prior to 1989 used to appraise socialism more positively than any other groups, denounce the past as they recognize, and are able to take advantage of, the opportunities that post‐communism opened. ‘Losers’ of the transition – manual workers and farmers – who used to be most outspoken against the socialist rule while it was in power, become first in evaluating the past positively, as they bear an unequal share of the transition costs. Individuals’ political experiences of the Communist Party also shape memories of socialism.

Rapid Changes in Labor Market Segmentation and the Risk of Unemployment 

Following the breakdown of communist rule in Eastern Europe, the alleged “scientific” allocation of human and material resources gave way to new types of rules of production and distribution. Prior to 1989, socialist governments forced the economy to reject any risk of individual unemployment and created an occupational structure comprised of redundant bureaucratic jobs and politically based status hierarchies, which aimed at minimizing gender differences. Rapid economic restructuring in post−communist societies, however, reformed the labor market (hereafter LM), such that earnings inequality changed from a product of politics to one rooted primarily in private property, profit, and competition (see Slomczynski 2000; Slomczynski and Lee 1993). Moreover, combined with the withdrawal of welfare state provisions, the restructuring of the economy increased gender inequality in the labor force, as it led women to temporarily or permanently exit the LM.

Under post−communist socioeconomic conditions all workers risk unemployment. It is reasonable to expect, however, that the extent of the unemployment threat will vary depending on people’s experience with the particular segments of the “old” and “new” LM and their history of mobility between these segments, as well as their demographic characteristics, especially gender and age. To assess whether this is the case, I use event history analysis on panel data from Poland in 1988–2003. Since the data offer information on respondents’ employment histories over a fifteen−year period, event history analysis is well−suited to the task: by taking time into account explicitly, it allows me to focus on the factors that statistically determine experiencing unemployment after first job loss. Poland offers an ideal socioeconomic and political environment for this analysis because, as in all communist economies, central planning represented the primary base of production and distribution of resources within society, and official unemployment did not exist; and following 1989, free−market economic principles replaced the logic of central planning, engendering significant consequences for the Polish labor market structure.

The purpose of this chapter was to investigate the occurrence of first unemployment through individuals’ careers under conditions of systemic change. Posing the general question of whether the hazard of losing one’s job varies in terms of shifts in LM segmentation following the fall of communism, this analysis tested three main hypotheses. The first hypothesis proposed that in societies moving from a socialist to a capitalist economy, the risk of unemployment would be lower for members of the former nomenklatura system because of their ability to translate political assets into economic ones. The second hypothesis assumed a higher risk of job loss for people who worked in the heavy industry sector prior to the systemic change, given the reliance of the “new” economy on capitalist market principles rather than the politics and ideology of the communist party−state. Flowing from these theoretical premises, the next question asked whether mobility from the “old” LM segments, the nomenklatura and/or heavy industry, into the newly privatized economy would be likely to significantly alter one’s risk of experiencing first unemployment. I answered these questions considering workers’ demographic characteristics, especially gender and age.

The results of this analysis support the research expectations. Changes in the labor market structure due to the end of central planning and the move toward a free−market economy directly affect people’s risk of unemployment. Nonetheless, this risk differs based on one’s position in the “old” labor market segments. Former nomenklatura members have a much lower hazard of experiencing unemployment, but having worked in the socialist heavy industry sector significantly increases one’s likelihood of job loss. Not surprisingly, mobility from the socialist LM segments to the newly privatized economy is greatest among the nomenklatura. Further on, as the state ceases to provide jobs at the completion of educational training, we see a greater risk of experiencing unemployment for the young. The impact of age seems to be nonlinear, however.

With respect to gender, results show that under the conditions of LM restructuring, men are more likely to experience unemployment than women. While this result seems counterintuitive at first, one needs to remember that in post−communist Polish society, economic restructuring and the reduction of welfare provisions led many women to leave the labor force. It is reasonable to assume that those who remain in the LM have various special skills, and it is in comparison with this group that men face greater chances of job loss.

The most interesting finding in this analysis pertains to the gains that moving into the newly privatized economy bring to socialist heavy industry employees. Although in general the post−1989 restructuring of the economy increased the risk of unemployment for heavy industry workers, this disadvantage (i.e., coming from heavy industry) is overridden for those who succeed in moving to the newly privatized sector. Not only is their risk of experiencing job loss much lower than that of people who continue working in heavy industry—moving to private industry from heavy industry brings more advantage than not having been in heavy industry to begin with.

In conclusion, this study demonstrates that LM segmentation before and after 1989 has a long−lasting effect on people’s risk of unemployment, with the nomenklatura system retaining its significant effect when its interaction with age is considered. The results go beyond the obvious, namely, that human capital is inversely related to the risk of unemployment, and point to the importance of social capital in the transforming societies of Central and Eastern Europe.


Modeling Occupational Careers for a Turbulent Economy: A Differential Equation Approach

Using data from the Polish Panel Survey, we analyze changes in occupational-career patterns by means of trajectories defined as the sequence and duration of work positions expressed on a numerical scale on different timelines: calendaryears, age, and years in the labor force. We apply a program (CONVERTER) that transforms the floating format of the occupational history (recorded with dates at the beginning and end of each job) into a fixed format (where occupational codes are given on an established timeline). After presenting career trajectories for calendar years and age, we use a model based on difference equations that has an important feature: It predicts values of socioeconomic status even if they decrease over time, especially at the end of the career. In the discussion ending the study, we relate the occurrence of nonsmooth trajectories, career interruptions, and multi-job situations to the turbulent economy in Poland.


Effects of Friendship Networks on Income Change 

We argue that having a large number of nonredundant friends—that is, friends who do not know each other—is conducive to income attainment. We define friendship patterns using two quantities: the number of all friends and the density of ties among friends. Applying a job−mobility model, based on the utility anticipated from a possible new job, we expect that social capital in the form of sparse networks, also known as networks with structural holes, will positively stimulate income attainment— above and beyond social characteristics traditionally used in status attainment research. We test the null hypothesis that nonredundant ties have no effect on income mobility.

We defined friendship patterns using two quantities: the number of all friends and the density of ties among friends. On the basis of survey data gathered in Poland, we tested the null hypotheses that nonredundant friendship ties have no effect on change in earnings during a five−year period, 1998–2003. Empirical findings demonstrate that the null hypothesis needs to be rejected. A large number of potential bridges between friends is conducive to income attainment, indicating that sparse networks, also known as networks with structural holes (Burt 2001), positively stimulate income mobility, net of social characteristics traditionally used in status attainment research.


International Experience and Labour Market Success: Analysing Panel Data from Poland 

International experience, defined here as living abroad for two or more months, should enhance individual success on the labour market, ceteris paribus, thanks to the human capital and economic resources that accrue. I use the Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988-2008 to examine the impact of having spent at least two months in a foreign country on (a) relative income gains, and (b) the odds of moving into the social class that gained most from the post-communist transformation, employers. In part of the analysis I treat the data as cross-sectional and use OLS regression with lag variables and correction for intra-group correlation. Due to methodological specificity of repeated measurement, I also use panel regression analysis. For both manifestations of individual success, results strongly support the hypothesis of the positive impact of international experience. They also show that international experience is especially valuable for Poles who acquired basic business skills during state socialism.


Effects of Future Orientations on Income Attainment and Social Class: An Analysis of Polish Panel Data 

This paper examines the role of psychological determinants for Poles’ location in the postcommunist social structure, above and beyond the traditional determinants of occupational achievement. Drawing on the theory of planned behavior, I expect that peoples’ outlook on the future—whether in terms of perceived opportunities and threats or a more general view of the times ahead—has a lasting impact on their success, understood here as attaining higher income and/or privileged class membership. I analyze this relation over time, considering that the current status (S,) is an additive function of future orientations (F,_]) and earlier status (S,_2). The Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988-2008 represents the backbone for my analyses. In this survey a representative sample of adult Poles was interviewed in 1988 and re-interviewed in 1993,1998, 2003 and 2008.1 analyze these panel data with lag variables, using OLS estimates and logistic regression for particular time-points. I also use cross-sectional time-series analysis to account for autocorrelation and multicollinearity stemming from the data’s hierarchical structure. Results support the main hypothesis in this study: consistently, thinking confidently about the future has positive effects on earnings and on belonging to the privileged social classes. This impact is substantive and statistically significant when prior income and social class, demographic  characteristics, and education are controlled for.


Social Mobility and Systemic Changes in Class Structure:  Analyzing Inflow-Outflow Tables with Different Origin and Destination Categories from Dynamics of Class and Stratification in Poland 

We examine patterns of intra-generational mobility in the aftermath of the 1989 systemic transformation in Poland, spanning the 15-year-period between the fall of ‘real socialism’ and Poland joining the European Union. The assumption is that the class structure of a ‘real’ socialist economy differed in a significant way from the class structure of nascent capitalism. Within a single generation, social mobility developed under unique conditions – people moved between social positions specific to two different socio-economic systems. This is in contrast with typical situations where social mobility is examined within the framework of a single socio-economic system, and therefore within a relatively stable class structure. Typically, the process is analyzed with the help of symmetrical tables (matrices) of mobility that have the same ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ categories. The analysis in this chapter departs from this model: it takes into account the different social classes from which individuals originate (typical for socialism) and the classes they enter (typical for nascent capitalism). Such an analysis demands a new approach to the presentation of the flow of persons between social categories, and in this case, of social classes.

Several years after the change of the regime the social structure in Poland was partly reproduced by intra-generational mobility, especially in disadvantaged segments of the structure. The working class (either in the core-industry or in its peripheral part) stays as manual workers (skilled and unskilled); members of peasantry become farmers, which reflects only some alteration in the way the business is conducted, but not the nature of employment status or types of work performed. However, intra-generational mobility brings also substantially important and statistically significant changes. The main social class which ceased to exist as a result of the regime transformation is the socialist nomenklatura, which to a great extent transferred into classes of employers-entrepreneurs and managers. Some owners of small enterprise became employers-entrepreneurs. Some office workers transferred to managerial, expert, and supervisor positions.

As shown in Chapter Two, managers, experts, and employers-entrepreneurs occupy the most privileged position.  Workers and farmers are in the least privileged position, at the very bottom of the stratification ladder. If we consider achieving a privileged position in the social structure after 1989 without control variables, only the effect of the self-employed in 1988 did not differ significantly from the effect of office workers, who make up the reference category.  In the case of the nomenklatura, the effect is positive, while for the core and peripheral working class the effect is negative.  After control for other variables, with the exception of self-employed, the effects of the social classes of late socialism have no significant effect on achieving neither privileged nor disadvantage social classes of nascent capitalism.  A change of coefficients from significant to insignificant is mostly caused by the education effect; the positive impact of this variable is indeed large. Introducing education into the equation negates the effect of the nomenklatura. This indicates the fact that the success of this social class was due not only to political factors, but also to human capital.  In Poland nomenklatura was, on average, well-educated – at least formally.


Determinants of Educational Inequality before and after the Systemic Change from Dynamics of Class and Stratification in Poland

We look at determinants of educational inequality before and after 1989. It complements the previous chapter by breaking down the overall effect of parental class and of education into effects of given class positions and of levels of educational attainment. We examine pupils’ chances of passing certain educational selection thresholds (success or failure). We also use a four-category dependent variable to get insights into the formation of social inequality following unequal educational outcomes and differences in starting occupational trajectories. Results support the stability of the origin-destination link observed in pre- and post-1989 Poland.

Behind this overall stability we find elements of change. The 1990s saw a noticeable increase in the impact of mother’s education on the odds that their children complete secondary school rather than not, net of other factors, father’s class included. Certain social class backgrounds – specifically, managers and business owners – exerted a significantly stronger effect on the likelihood of successfully passing from secondary to post-secondary school after 1989. For children of managers, this was also true with respect to the odds of completing secondary school. Finally, in the first decade after State Socialism ended, offspring of skilled manual workers outdistanced those of lower-level non-manual workers in the likelihood of going to post-secondary school. This finding should be interpreted cautiously – it may have been just a temporary fluctuation.

Regarding consequences of educational inequality, as reflected in starting points of peoples’ occupational trajectories, we find that class background played a significant role in creating both educational and occupational inequality well before 1989. In socialist Poland, persons originating from unskilled manual workers’ families, as well as those of farmers origin, had significantly higher relative probabilities to take up employment (mainly manual) or even to stay out of the labor market altogether, than to continue to post-secondary school, compared to children of low-level non-manual workers.  The opposite was true for Poles whose fathers were professionals: compared to persons from low-level non-manual worker families, their relative probability to get into any path other than post-secondary school was significantly lower.