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Poverty and Social Exclusion During and After Poland’s Transition to Capitalism Four Generations of Women in a Post-Industrial City Tell Their Life Stories - ebook/pdf
Poverty and Social Exclusion During and After Poland’s Transition to Capitalism Four Generations of Women in a Post-Industrial City Tell Their Life Stories - ebook/pdf
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Wydawca: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego Język publikacji: polski
ISBN: 978-8-3808-8501-1 Data wydania:
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The book is about poverty in Poland during the period of system transformation and in the decade that followed, as documented in the life courses of consecutive generations of women living in the disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the post-industrial city. 69 life histories were collected. The authors analyse the life histories of four generations of women where the oldest are former workers in state-owned factories in which they worked until retirement and who used to be the avant-garde of the women’s working class during the socialist period. Their daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters occurred redundant on the capitalist labour market and lived on social benefits. The book is unique in both Polish and world literature since it goes beyond traditionally considered “feminisation of poverty” in monetary terms. It searches for poverty drivers and maintainers embedded in changes in industrial relations, welfare regime and family structures and relations. It also tells about women’ efforts and capabilities to cope with the disadvantage.

The publication will be of interest to a broad audience composed of scholars concerned with poverty, social marginalisation and exclusion, officers in public and non-governmental institutions as well as to students of social work, sociology, pedagogy, psychology, social policy, gender studies and family science.

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Paulina Bunio-Mroczek, Małgorzata Potoczna, Wielisława Warzywoda-Kruszyńska – University of Łódź, Faculty of Economics and Sociology Department of Applied Sociology and Social Work, 90-255 Łódź, POW Street no. 3/5 e-mails:;; © Copyright by Authors, Łódź 2016 © Copyright by University of Łódź, Łódź 2016 © Copyright for this edition by Jagiellonian University Press All rights reserved No part of this book may be reprinted or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers The publishing of the book was funded by the Faculty of Economics and Sociology University of Łódź Published by Łódź University Press Jagiellonian University Press First edition, Łódź–Kraków 2016 ISBN 978-83-8088-500-4 – paperback Łódź University Press ISBN 978-83-23-4274-8 – paperback Jagiellonian University Press ISBN 978-83-8088-501-1 – electronic version Łódź University Press ISBN 978-83-23-9630-7 – electronic version Jagiellonian University Press Łódź University Press 8 Lindleya St., 90-131 Łódź e-mail: phone +48 (42) 665 58 63 Distribution outside Poland Jagiellonian University Press 9/2 Michałowskiego St., 31-126 Kraków phone +48 (12) 631 01 97, +48 (12) 663 23 81, fax +48 (12) 663 23 83 cell phone: +48 506 006 674, e-mail: Bank: PEKAO SA, IBAN PL 80 1240 4722 1111 0000 4856 3325 Contents Introduction Chapter 1 The sociology of the life course Chapter 2 Poverty in the biographical experience of women from the oldest generation – ‘grandmothers’ 1. Childhood 1.1. Poverty in childhood in the countryside 1.1.1. Children working as servants 1.2. Poverty in childhood in Łódź 1.2.1. Working mothers. Caring for younger siblings 1.3. World War II and the Nazi-German occupation 1.3.1. Forced displacement and labour in Germany 1.3.2. Working in German factories. Taking responsibility for the mother and younger siblings 2. Youth 2.1. Starting work in a factory – a new biographical experience 3. Adulhood 3.1. Getting married 3.2. Reconciling work with maternity and child care 3.2.1. Marriages founded on partner relations 3.2.2. Traditional marriages 3.2.3. Lack of trust in marital relations – alcoholism in the family of procreation 3.3. Financial conditions of the family of procreation 3.4. Events that damage stability – illness and husband’s death 9 21 29 31 31 34 36 40 41 42 44 45 45 47 47 49 49 50 50 51 53 6 Contents 4. Old age 4.1. Living on an old age pension in an extended family 4.2. Grandmothers as foster families 4.3. Health problems – lack of money for medical care 4.4. Summing up one’s life – subjective assessment of one’s life in the past and at present Chapter 3 Poverty in the biographical experience of women from the middle generation – ‘mothers’ 1. Childhood 1.1. Childhood in poverty – the father’s alcoholism 1.2. Education 2. Adulth 2.1. Marriage – capital at the start 2.1.1. The drinking husband’s violence and aggression 2.1.2. Taking responsibility for the finances and organiza- tion of family life 2.2. The breakdown of a marriage 2.2.1. Divorce and its consequences 2.3. Employment 2.3.1. Loss of employment and its consequences 2.4. Health problems and sudden illness as poverty driver and maintainer Chapter 4 Poverty in the biographical experience of women from the young generation – ‘daughters’ 1. Childhood 1.1. In the shadow of alcoholism 1.2. At the grandparents’ place 1.3. Mother’s divorce. Breaking off relations with the father 2. Adulth 2.1. Early, unplanned motherhood 2.2. Being a mother 2.3. Outside the labour market 2.4. Dependency on family support and social welfare Chapter 5 Poverty in the biographical experience of women from the youngst generation – ‘granddaughters’ 1. Childhood 1.1. Good childhood memories 1.2. Childhood trauma 54 54 56 57 58 61 63 63 65 67 67 71 76 77 78 80 82 87 91 92 92 95 96 97 97 99 100 101 103 106 106 107 2. Adolescence 2.1. Early disengagement from school – hanging out with those guys 2.2. Early pregnancy 3. Early adulthood 3.1. Single teenage motherhood 3.2. On the margins of the labour market 3.3. Undignifying housing conditions 3.4. Future plans 3.5. Women only Chapter 6 Life histories of three families 1. The F. family 2. The W. family 3. The Z.B. family Conclusions References About the authors Contents 7 109 109 110 113 113 116 117 119 121 123 123 133 143 153 159 167 Introduction The overall objective of this book is to provide knowledge about trans- mission of poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon in the time of Poland’s transition to capitalism before the country joined the European Union. There is a huge shortage of publications concerning poverty in the post-socialist period of the Central and Eastern Europe, and we believe that the book will fill the gap. We focus on the experience of women that goes beyond ‘feminisation of poverty’ traditionally perceived in mone- tary terms, and search for numerous contributing factors. Therefore the book is also about changes in the social structure, industrial relations, welfare regime and family structures and relations, as well as about the women’s capabilities to cope with disadvantages. It is unique in the sense that it puts subjective experience and efforts of the women suffering from scarcity in the frame of macrostructural pro- cesses which are beyond their reach. The book describes family histories of the women who in the previous social system (socialism) belonged to a leading group in the female labour force whereas their daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters need support provided by so- cial assistance, both during and following the system transformation pe- riod, since they are unable to earn a living. Therefore the book describes the intra- and inter- generational transmission of poverty as a multidi- mensional phenomenon documented in family life stories of the women living in disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods and belonging mostly to the same extended families. As noted by Robert Miller (2007), qualitative research allows to learn about a family’s life history and thus better understand the mechanism of the intra- and intergenerational transmission of poverty. Biographical research based on accounts of several family members has, according to him, following advantages: 1. It provides an insight into the subjective construction of meanings by interviewees. What is crucial is that the analyst can reach an 10 Introduction understanding of how the interviewee has come to give the responses that he or she does give; both at the surface level of tailoring their responses within the context of the interview and at the more deep level of the actual interpretations of their present and past situations that they have themselves (Miller 2007: 3). 2. It enables the construction of a comprehensive picture of the fam- ily, especially when life stories are told by representatives of differ- ent generations within the same family. 3. The holistic approach transcends barriers of space and time taking into account events and people previously and presently related to the interviewees. 4. It provides access to information about at least two generations preceding the interviewee, hence one can follow the transfer of resources not only from parents to children but also from grand- parents to grandchildren, between siblings, etc. 5. It enables reconstruction of the ‘history’ of a  creation of new households by family members taking into account favourable circumstances and those which impede their formation such as easy or difficult access to housing, work or emotional relations with family members, etc. 6. It reveals differences in perception and assessment of the same events and processes by representatives of different generations from the same family. We applied in the book the life-course perspective, defined by Giele and Elder (1998) as follows: The key building block elements of the new life-course paradigm are events combined in event histories or trajectories that are then compared across persons or groups by noting differences in timing, duration, and rates of change. [...] No longer are the principal ques- tions ones of comparing static qualities such as how many and which people are poor; rather, the new dynamic questions focus on both individual char- acteristics and system properties (1998: 2). The above approach is based on five principles (Giele, Elder 1998; Elder, Johnson, Crosnoe 2004; Verd, Lopez 2011; Shanahan, Mortimer, Krikpatrick Johnson 2016) which are addressed in analyses presented in this monograph: 1) time and place – people are embedded in the historical and cul- tural context affecting their experiences and framing their life- course; 2) linked lives – interactions with other influence actions of individ- uals and give rise to shared experiences; 3) human agency – people make decisions and act taking into ac- count socio-cultural context; Introduction 11 4) timing – people in different age are affected differently by the same events and therefore their consequences are not the same; 5) life-span development – to understand individual’s course of life the long-time perspective has to be applied. The life-course perspective is mostly applied by quantitatively orient- ed scholars, but the qualitative studies have increasingly contributed to the approach. In this book we applied a qualitative method (case study), which enabled us to locate actions undertaken by people in the interrela- tion with external factors even if they did not reflect them (Munck 2004) and in the interrelation with other people. We followed so-called realistic approach sharing Daniel Bertaux (1997) and Peter Thompson (2004) point of view that the story is a means to access ‘objective’ reality beyond narrator. Such approach seems to be the most fruitful when individuals are confronted with unexpected and long-lasting challenges leading to destabilisation of the ‘usual’ life-course Therefore, in the family life stories one can trace how the main struc- tural factors like industrial relations, family structure and welfare system constituted the frame for decisions taken by the narrators concerning their private and vocational life. Family structures and relations, labour market and welfare system have undergone changes in the analysed time span and differently affected generations under study. They constituted socio-economic-cultural context impacting on decisions and actions of women participating in the research. The oldest generation experienced the quasi-feudal relations before the Second World War, forced labour in German agriculture farms and factories during the WWII, and two system transformations: from capitalism toward socialism and vice ver- sa. Their daughters lived as children and adult persons in the socialist society enjoying secure industrial relations (including extended parental leave available for female workers on their request) and later on had to accommodate to capitalist order. The generation of their granddaughters born mostly in the 1970s attended grammar school still during socialism but grew up under conditions of capitalism and experienced the transfor- mation as mediated by fears and hopes of their parents and when adult as welfare dependency. The youngest generation born during transfor- mation does not know other political and economic order than that pro- duced by neoliberal capitalism. After the year 1989, the system transformation caused changes in val- ue system establishing the private ownership as fundamental and the most protected one. Market economy replaced command economy, what altogether with reorientation of international economic relations after collapse of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance covering social- ist countries, led to deindustrialization and massive unemployment. The 12 collapse of industrial working class as an influential social segment pro- duced new social divisions. The private possession of means of produc- tion, mass media, and a real estate created Haves versus Non-Haves and ability to adjust to new economic requirements (with access to work as an important criterion) generated Winners versus Losers. Therefore the book contains evidence of the process of de-protelari- zation, which is reflected in the women’s life stories. It shows the loss of self-esteem and personal dignity by the representatives of the working class, which used to be labelled as the ‘leading class’ in the state socialism. The reader will also observe destandarization of employment, referred to as work flexibility, which led to unpredictability of income and transfor- mation of workers’ districts into poverty enclaves. At the local level, these changes fostered growing economic and social inequalities that translated into spatial segregation. According to Alain Bertaut (2004: 5), development of socialist cities at time of the system transformation was imposed by following circumstances: 1) location of the residential estates of the high-density panel hous- ing on the outskirts, 2) location of industrial land near city centres, 3) lacking space in the city centre for retail and services, 4) poorly maintained infrastructure in the centre with the high res- idential density, 5) problems with the renovation of houses mostly in the inner-city caused by property rights problems and land tenure. All above mentioned circumstances operated in the town of Łódź in the 1990s and contributed to the spatial and social segregation forming pockets of poverty (enclaves of poverty) defined as areas where mem- bers of households provided with means-tested social assistance benefits constituted at least 30 per cent of population living there. 12 among 17 revealed enclaves of poverty were located in the city centre (Fig.1). According to Warzywoda-Kruszyńska and Golczyńska-Grondas (2010: 31), three overlapping processes contributed to impoverishment of thousands of Łódź inhabitants in the 1990s, pushing many of them to social and municipal housing in the devastated tenement houses in the city centre: 1. Deindustrialization – closing down of factories led to mass and chronic unemployment. 2. Commodification – increase in rent and commercialization of social services produced arrears and in many causes resulted in eviction. 3. Deinstitutionalization of family – increase in the number of one-per- son households and single-parent families as well as decrease in the number of marriages contributed to a lower income level. Poverty and Social Exclusion... Introduction 13 Figure 1. Location of enclaves of poverty in the city of Łódź Source: Grotowska-Leder J. (1998: 64); the map producer: I. Jażdżewska The processes were accompanied by severe shortages in the municipal budget and the lack of flats available from the municipal administration, that is the structure responsible for providing low standard shelters to evicted persons1, and to others, if that was ordered by the court. Two other groups were also eligible for such shelters. They included young adults leaving residential care and foster families, and ex-prisoners with- out permanent residence. Apart from the administratively run inflow of low-income individuals and families to the inner-city, where tenement houses were not renovated during the entire post-WWII period and therefore they were in a very bad condition, spontaneous processes also occurred. They included out- flow of better-off residents and inflow of those with low income who de- cided to move into the houses to pay lower rent to avoid eviction. All 1 Pregnant women, families with children, disabled persons and pensioners are protected against eviction ‘to nowhere’. Because it is a lack of free social or mu- nicipal flats, municipality pays rent to tenant houses owners, what produces huge burden on municipal budget. 14 these factors contributed to a relatively high concentration of poor people in the centre of the city. The disadvantaged areas that formed at that time still exist. Poverty is a shocking feature characterising these localities. Ten years after the existence of the inner-city poverty pockets in Łódź was confirmed, these places continue to be impoverished neighbourhoods (ibidem p.40). In the literature, there are different explanations of disadvantage per- sistence in some locations, emphasising the persistence of unemployment (Kain 1968; Wilson 1987; Johnson 2006) and insecurity resulting from low pay – no pay (Shildrick, McDonald, Webster, Garthwaite 2012), weakness of networks (Buck 2001; Buck, Gordon 2004) and disorder, which dis- courages better-off people to settle down there. Though all these circum- stances applied to Łódź, the explanation by Wacquant (2008) seems to be the most adequate. He claims that neo-liberal capitalism produced neigh- bourhoods of relegation to keep control over individuals excluded from the labour market and forced to exist outside the mainstream of society. In the stories presented in the book there is evidence that people manifest strong feelings of being redundant and relegated. Living in poverty and social disadvantage produces different conse- quences depending on age. It is particularly devastating if experienced in childhood (Shonkoff, Philips (eds.) 2000; Shonkoff 2011; Yaqub 2002; Chase-Lansdale, Kiernan, Friedman (eds.) 2004; Lareau 2011; Daly, Leonard 2008; TARKY 2010; de Neubourg, Bradshaw, Chzhen, Main, Martorano, Menchini 2012; Sharkey, Tirado-Strayer, Papachristos, Raver 2012). Poverty in childhood translates frequently into poverty in adult- hood and transmits to the subsequent generation. Karen Moore (2004) emphasises that intergenerational transmission of poverty should be studied in close connection with intra-generational poverty/prosperity. She focuses on what is transmitted from parents to children, (external) factors that affect this process and the ways in which they affect it. What is actually transmitted from one generation to another are different types of capital (material, human, environmental, socio-cultural and socio-polit- ical). The prosperity of individuals from the next generation depends on whether, and in what form, they received capital from their ancestors and whether they have accrued capital themselves. The transfer of different types of capital and therefore transmission of poverty/prosperity takes place under certain structural and cultural conditions. Some concern the level of family e.g. composition of the household, style of raising children, sex of children, while others operate at the level of local community and neighbourhood e.g. accessibility of social services or at a macro level i.e. at the level of society e.g. legal norms which regulate inheritance rules and access to capital. Poverty and Social Exclusion... Introduction 15 However, transmission of poverty across generations is not a deter- ministic process. Individual’s agency, frequently referred to as resistance, and external intervention may change such course of life. We can observe it in the life stories of the oldest generation. On the other hand, better-off childhood may transfer into scarcity in adulthood, as documented in the life histories of younger generation. Poverty drivers include unemploy- ment of the parents, family disruption, moving in the pocket of poverty and meeting peers and adults who disrespect social norms and behav- iours, etc. The specific objectives of the book to realize by means of analysing family life histories of women belonging to four subsequent generations was getting better understanding of: 1) formative biographical events impacting women’s entrenchment in poverty, its persistence and possible overcoming, 2) biographical experiences formative for each generation of women, 3) typical ways of experiencing biographical events by women from each generation, 4) socio-economic and historical processes underlying the course of subjective women’s experiences, 5) patterns of experiencing poverty identified in all generations, 6) drivers and maintainers of poverty transmission across genera- tions. To achieve these objectives we considered empirical data from two studies carried out by a team of sociologists working for the University of Łódź: 1. ‘Forms of Poverty and Social Threats and their Spatial Distribu- tion in Łódź’2 (1996–1999), and 2. ‘Teenage parenthood as exposure to poverty and social exclu- sion’ – the module in the research project ‘WZLOT – Strength- ening Opportunities and Weakening the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty among Inhabitants of Łódź Voivode- ship’3 (2008–2010). 2 PBZ nr 018 08 was financed by the Scientific Research Committee (KBN). Results of the project were published in a series of books and articles, for example Warzy- woda-Kruszyńska W. (eds.) (1998) Żyć i pracować w enklawach biedy. Łódź; Warzy- woda-Kruszyńska W. (eds.) (1999) (Żyć) Na marginesie wielkiego miasta. Łódź; Gol- czyńska-Grondas A. (2004) Mężczyźni z enklaw biedy: rekonstrukcja pełnionych ról społecznych. Łódź; Potoczna M., Warzywoda-Kruszyńska W. (2009) Kobiety z łódz- kich enklaw biedy. Bieda w cyklu życia i międzypokoleniowym przekazie. Łódź. Wy- dawnictwo UŁ. 3 UDA-POKL.07.02.01-10-033/08-00). Results of the project are available at: www.
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